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Birdsong donation will change lives

Western Tidewater is fortunate to have many nonprofit organizations and several community foundations and trusts working to make it a better place for all of us to live.

Recently, the Birdsong Trust made a donation that provided start-up costs for a significant workforce development program that will allow people to jump-start a well-paying career in the health care field in a short amount of time.

The Birdsong Trust provided $24,000 to Paul D. Camp Community College for a program that will allow students to receive certifications to be a clinical medical assistant, phlebotomy technician and EKG technician, all in a matter of weeks.

Earning potential for a person with these certifications and the right aptitude for health care is significant. EKG technicians can make $61,000 or more, according to a press release from Paul D. Camp Community College, and someone with the other certifications as well becomes even more employable. The three job fields are growing at an average of 30 percent.

But the program doesn’t just provide classroom learning and certification exams. It requires a five-week externship with a local employer to enable students to springboard into their new career.

The credentialing exams will even be offered on site so that students will not have to travel far. Practice exams and study guides will help ensure students are able to succeed on the tests.

Importantly, the program will accept only 15 students in each spring and fall semester so as not to flood the market with students. And it is affordable, at a cost of only $4,500. If the same courses were taken separately at other institutions, the average cost would be $7,300, according to Paul D. Camp officials. That cost includes textbooks, uniforms, exam costs and other needs.

We appreciate the Birdsong Trust Fund’s and Paul D. Camp Community College’s commitment to making sure there are affordable, convenient options to obtain the certifications needed to begin a good career. We sincerely hope many people are able to use this program to change their lives.