Students at St. Philip's College's Center for Health Professions present the Texas Workforce Commission check. Credit: Roseanna Garza / San Antonio Report

The Methodist Healthcare System of San Antonio has partnered with the Alamo Colleges to provide job training for 957 healthcare industry workers, made possible by a Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC).

On Thursday, TWC Commissioner Ruth Hughs presented a check for $516,538 that will go toward purchasing lab equipment and providing continuing education and training for faculty from St. Philip’s College and Methodist, as well as an opportunity to develop and improve curriculum.

The grant will fund advanced training in nursing, acute patient care, and cardiac life support and include programs for clinical educators, office managers, and unit secretaries.

“We value smart investments with companies [who are] taking us into the future,” Hughs said.

The lab equipment will be purchased for specialized, up-to-date training and housed at Methodist hospitals for the duration of the grant, where St. Philip’s students will receive on-site training. When the grant ends, the college will keep the equipment to be used to train all students going forward.

“I’m very excited about the residual value of the program,” Hughs said, referring to the long-term use of equipment that will train generations of students. “The regional impact is estimated at $27.6 million.”

Hughs said the grant will help create 384 new jobs by way of training individuals for acute and specialized healthcare positions and helping meet the increasing demand for workers in this field. It will benefit 573 healthcare workers who are currently employed and want to enhance their skills through advanced and specialized training, she added.

Carolyn King, director of grants and clinical education operations with the Methodist Healthcare System, told the Rivard Report that the partnership with St. Philip’s will help meet the organization’s mission of providing exceptional, cost-effective health care that is accessible to all.

“This skills development grant is helping us every day,” King said. “Our employees are improving their skills and [because of this] are providing better patient care.”

Methodist and St. Philip’s staff collaborated on developing curriculum that King says produced educational material that reflects best practices. St. Philip’s faculty will have the option to continue using the curriculum after the grant has ended.

Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie
Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the partnership between St. Philip’s and Methodist reflects the spirit of San Antonio, where organizations understand the impact of “work[ing] together to leverage resources” in order to benefit the community.

“None of us can do this alone anymore,” Leslie said, stressing the importance of input from people with a variety of views and perspectives. “Relationships with each other are what [make] these kinds of programs work,” and improve outcomes for staff and patients.

One in six San Antonio residents works in the healthcare industry, Hughs said. The Center for Health Professions at St. Philip’s College opened in 2009, and “is the most advanced medical training facility east of the medical center,” according to Adena Williams Loston, president of St. Philip’s College.

Loston said the facility is a point of pride for the Eastside and was modeled to resemble a small hospital. “We work to maintain the most high-tech facility in the city, and [train] the best practitioners in the region.”

The Center for Health Professions is home to 16 accredited professional health programs, including those that train surgical technicians, massage therapists, and physical or occupational therapy assistants, to name a few. The TWC grant will help expand the college’s educational reach through improved and additional training opportunities.

A joint effort between the college and Methodist Healthcare physicians also led the development of new classes for the healthcare facilities management curriculum. New courses will focus on advanced cardiac life support and acute care, with training to address how to be successful in such high-stress settings.

Loston said that students who successfully compete the programs within the Center for Health Professions on average earn between $42,000 and $72,000, which is “better than students with a bachelor’s degree.”

“[Our programs] have an enormous impact on the financial health of our students [by reducing] student debt, and [helping] them to earn a competitive wage,” Loston said.

Leslie echoed this sentiment, stating that programs through the Center for Health Professions open up many different doors for students by improving their economic outcomes.

“[People] will be making more money, paying more taxes, and that makes the community grow and develop,” Leslie said. “This isn’t just about training people, this is about changing lives.”

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.