13 healthcare students in scrubs take a group photo on stairs

Healthcare students at the César E. Chávez Campus.

$1M grant to expand healthcare career pathways

March 12, 2024 | Allura Garis - San Diego College of Continuing Education

San Diego College of Continuing Education has secured a $1-million state grant to work with its regional adult education partners in expanding pathways for English language learners to embark on in-demand healthcare careers. 

The English Language Learner Healthcare Pathway Grant of $1,049,601 is being funded through the Care Economy Workforce Development Package, a $130-million appropriation which health care providers say is desperately needed to help rebuild California’s health care workforce in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Some $30 million in funding was available in 2023-24 to develop healthcare-focused vocational pathways for English language learners. 

SDCCE will work with San Diego Unified School District in expanding a successful, joint Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program. Under the CNA program, students learn the skills and knowledge to become registered CNAs while embarking on a career route that can lead to becoming a licensed vocational nurse or registered nurse.

Also, with this funding SDCCE will offer new courses in the fall of 2025 to train future ophthalmic technicians and optical technicians. Anyone who has seen a professional ophthalmologist, or eye care specialist, has most likely been helped by an ophthalmic technician trained to administer eye exams and perform various types of special testing. Ophthalmic technicians are earning an average annual salary of approximately $55,000 in San Diego County and $52,000 in California, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Opticians fit customers for eyeglasses and contact lenses and help them select frames and lenses. They earn comparable wages to ophthalmic technicians.

Currently, SDCCE healthcare programs include career training certificates in Personal Care Assistant, Home Health Aide, Behavioral Health Aid, Health Unit Coordinator, and three different options falling under Nursing Assistant.

“The Census Bureau estimates that approximately 24% of San Diego residents are foreign born and that a language other than English is spoken at more than 38% of the city’s households,” said San Diego College of Continuing Education President Dr. Tina M. King. “Offering courses and programs such as these to English Language Learners expand access for all to the transformational benefits offered by San Diego College of Continuing Education and San Diego Unified’s Adult Education.” 

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