Cardiovascular program gains support

January 28, 1994|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Howard Community College and Washington Hospital Center in Washington have agreed to start a cardiovascular technology program that could be the first college program of its kind in Maryland.

Cardiovascular technologists are certified medical personnel who assist physicians and nurses in testing, monitoring and treating heart patients.

On Wednesday, community college trustees voted unanimously to launch a two-year program that would train 12 to 15 students a year, starting this fall. The program is expected to cost $99,420 annually.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission, which is expected to meet in June, has final say over whether the program is begun.

"Both parties are very enthusiastic about it," said Dr. Joseph Lindsay, director of the Cardiology Division at Washington Hospital Center. Staff at the hospital, which specializes in cardiology, would train and supervise students in the program's second year.

The program comes at a time when the population is living longer, resulting in a larger number of heart patients, and when preventive medicine is receiving greater attention, said Dr. Emily Slunt, chairwoman of the health science division at Howard Community College.

"It's a need we have identified," said Dr. Slunt, referring to a survey passed out last year to a number of hospitals and clinics in Howard County, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. "We felt [the program] would serve the county population."

She said the only other cardiovascular technology program in the state is at Bethesda Naval Hospital, which is exclusively for its own employees.

The Howard Community College program would enroll about 15 students in its first year. They would take a number of required courses with a "heavy emphasis on science," Dr. Slunt said.

Of the initial 15 students, only about 12 are expected to be selected by staff to enroll in the second year, where they would have hands-on training at Washington Hospital Center.

"It'll be a difficult program but it will be worthwhile," Dr. Slunt said.

The 70-credit degree program would cost students $66 per credit hour and $45 for course fees. Graduates can expect to earn between $20,000 and $45,000 annually, depending on their skill level and where they work.

After a few years, the program would expand to include students interested in noninvasive cardiovascular technology. Such technology includes echocardiography and electrocardiography, both ways of monitoring heart activity, and exercise stress testing.

Students also will be able to study at other hospitals and clinics in Howard County and Baltimore.

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