The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

February 23, 2013

Medical calling

Health care classes are abundant, popular among students at Autry Technology Center

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Autry Technology Center offers a plethora of studies designed to launch students into the health care field.


Students can train to become licensed practical nurses and, if they choose, continue studies at Northern Oklahoma College for registered nurse certification and then go to Northwestern Oklahoma State University to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing.

But nursing is far from the only health care training at Autry.

The list of full-time courses includes dental assistant, health careers, medical administrative, medical assistant, respiratory care, surgical technology, radiography, MRI.

Dental assisting

Traci Gosney, dental assisting instructor, said the dental assisting program is 10 months. Students learn about fillings, x-rays, receptionist duties, alginate impressions, orthodontics and temporary crowns.

“It’s a lot of hands-on learning, to learn what they need to know to work with the dentist,” Gosney said.

“After spring break, the students have the opportunity to go out and get supervised work experience,” said Melissa Jenlink, marketing director for Autry.

“They actually get to work with the doctors,” Gosney said. “We get a lot of employment from doing that.”

Demand for the dental assisting program has caused it to grow from an afternoon-only program last year to a program with one set of morning students and another set of afternoon students. There are 30 currently enrolled in the program.

Business information

Tera Davis, business information technology instructor, teaches courses in the medical administration program.

“I teach the front office skills,” Davis said.

Her students learn about answering phones, customer service, scheduling appointments, billing, coding, insurance and transcription.

The 40 students enrolled in the program can take classes for half a day or a full day. It takes about 2 years to complete the program if they study half days, Davis said.

Surgical technology

Kim McFarland, surgical technology instructor, said students learn a full array of techniques to assist in the operating room.

“We teach our students to pull their cases, set up a sterile field, learn the procedure so they can pass instruments and learn patient care,” she said. “They learn about laparoscopic procedures. We really learn all the specialties — neuro, ob/gyn, orthopedic. My students are very well-rounded.”

Autry has agreements with with St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center and Integris Bass Baptist Health Center and Ponca City Medical Center for clinical experiences for surgical technology.

Enrollment in surgical technology and respiratory care are limited, and students are screened before being admitted.

Respiratory care

Jim Grantz, clinical director for the respiratory care program, said students in the course are taught everything they can be taught about the heart and lungs during the two-year program.

“A lot of things I teach have to do with mechanical ventilation,” Grantz said

Pharmacology, professionalism and customer service also are part of what students learn, Grantz said

Deryl Gulliford, program director for the respiratory care program, said the students learn to assist patients with conditions like asthma, emphysema, cystic fibrosis, black lung disease, pneumonia, congestive heart failure and prematurity.

“Treating premature infants is one of the exciting parts of what we do,” Gulliford said.

U.S. News and World Report lists respiratory care as one of the top health care jobs in America, placing it 13th on the top 100 list.

“What else can you train for in two years that will generate a median salary of $60,000?” Gulliford said.

Graduates of the respiratory care program have found 100 percent employment in the last two years, Grantz said.

The program admits 10 new students per year in a competitive process that includes interviews of potential students.

“It is academically challenging,” Gulliford said. “You do need to be prepared to study. ACT scores make a difference, and high school grades do make a difference.”

Adult and career development health science classes at Autry cover medication aide and continuing education for CMA, emergency medicine, home health care, certified nurse aide training, medical administration, pharmacy technician, basic life support instructor updates, adult and child CPR and first aid.