"Armstrong Atlantic has been an early responder to the workforce needs in our community."
—Sidney J. Bolch II

Cardiovascular Grads Find Jobs Waiting

— from Alaska to Georgia

Esma Campbell, coordinator of the Cardiovascular Interventional Science program, says her recent graduates are tickled pink. But, so is she. After all, there is good reason to celebrate. In a time of a down economy and high unemployment, seven of the eight members of the inaugural class who graduated in May 2009 have found jobs. Some have pocketed generous sign-on bonuses.

"These are the same kids who not long ago could hardly afford a Happy Meal at McDonald's," Campbell said.

The seven who have found jobs are working in places from Alaska to Beaufort and Columbia in South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina and Savannah. The eighth member of the class has been holding on to an old job in Savannah, but she is on her way to Atlanta where demand for cardiovascular technologists is high.

Introduced in 2007, the program is offered by the Department of Radiologic Sciences in the College of Health Professions. It was under development for 14 months as Campbell and others in the radiologic sciences worked closely with regional healthcare providers to build a program that could produce the type of healthcare professionals coveted by hospitals. Three regional health care systems provided seed money to launch the program: St. Joseph's/Candler Health System, Memorial Health, and the Southeast Georgia Health System in Brunswick.

The goal was crystal clear: to begin alleviating a critical shortage of qualified cardiovascular technologists not only at the regional level, but also nationwide.

AASU's program is one of only a handful in the country offering state-of-the-art education specific to comprehensive invasive cardiovascular diagnosis and intervention. In the past, it has been up to most healthcare providers to train staff from their own ranks to work in cardiac catheterization and vascular labs. It has been an expensive endeavor.

"Armstrong Atlantic has been an early responder to the workforce needs in our community," said
Sidney J. Bolch III, a cardiologist with the Southcoast Medical Center and medical director for the new program. "The program is now providing highly qualified graduates who are fulfilling a great need for more professionals to combat the growing needs in our area, and indeed, the southeast and beyond."

Our cardiovascular grads can certainly agree with that.