Northwest-Shoals Community College, located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, will soon offer programs in medical sonography and diagnostic imaging in the fall in an effort to meet an increasing demand for more health care and medical courses.
When Northwest-Shoals officials first discussed the possibility of adding the programs, the college surveyed students involved in health studies to determine whether there was a demand for the classes at the school, according to Northwest-Shoals public information officer Trent Randolph.
Northwest-Shoals president Dr. Glenda Colagross said in a recent statement that the survey results found there was a “tremendous” amount of students interested in the medical and health care programs.
The diagnostic imaging program will help students learn the necessary skills to work as a radiologic technologist at clinics or hospitals, Northwest-Shoals officials said.
The medical sonography program will prepare students to work as a diagnostic sonographer. The medical sonography field correlates with obstetrics and the use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancy in addition to being used in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, Times Daily reported.
Recent data shows that there were 106 duplicated job openings in ultrasound technology and radiologic technology within a 50-mile radius of the college, associate dean of Workforce Development Rose Jones said.
“These type of high-demand, high-wage jobs will have a huge impact on our local health care providers and really diversify our health studies offerings,” Jones said in a recent release.
Job openings in these fields are expected to grow in the Muscle Shoals area from 2016 to 2026, according to Gerald Nix, a statistician for the Alabama Department of Labor.
The median pay for diagnostic medical sonographers was $65,620 per year and $60,070 per year for radiologic technologists, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.
Equipment for the new programs are currently being installed on the campus. Some of the equipment was donated to the school by North Alabama Medical Center, which was not being used in the new hospital.
“This decreased what the college will have to purchase significantly,” Randolph said. “We cannot say enough about how great the support is from all of our area hospitals as we get these programs up and running.”