Maria Phipps of Adelphi said pursuing classes to become a registered nurse at Prince George’s Community College used to consist of cramped classes and broken and outdated equipment.
She’s welcomed the changes this school year as the Largo college opened a roughly $36.4 million three-story, 112,000 square-foot facility at its main campus in August.
The building, which was built using county and state funding, consolidated the school’s health studies program that was spread across the college.
“[Now] they have everything to make you feel confident when you get out there,” Phipps said.
The new facility opens in part to meet the needs of existing students and an anticipated future demand for health care workers, school officials said.
Countywide, there is a need for additional health care providers, according to 2012 study by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health that found Prince George’s had fewer providers than its neighbors. Among nurse practitioners there were about 24.2 per 100,000 people in Prince George’s County compared to a high of 96.5 in Howard County among similar jurisdictions the study examined and the state-wide average of 51.5.
The school offers a variety of training ranging from associates degree to training so students can get certified as medical office assistants, pharmacy technicians or for medical billing, said school officials.
The new facility has 11 classrooms and 26 labs up from the two classrooms and about seven dedicated labs spaces the program used to have, said Angela Anderson, dean of the Division of Health Sciences.
Of the roughly 40,000 students attending PGCC, about 1,000 of them are in the degree-seeking program in the division, Anderson said. The majority of students at the school are county residents, said Joe Clark, a PGCC spokesman.
Many of the school’s graduates go on to become paramedics for area fire departments or eventually take jobs in nearby hospitals, Anderson said.
“Right now our job placement is predominantly in the county,” she said, adding that some students pursue opportunities in Montgomery County and Washington, D.C., due to their proximity.
Benjamin Enyinnaya, a full-time student pursuing an associate degree in radiology, says he aims to stay in Prince George’s.
“I see a 100 percent chance of staying in the county,” said the New Carrollton resident. “My family lives around here and I’m used to the area.”
With the increased space and rising demand for health care professionals, Anderson sees the program adding additional courses in non-traditional hours such as nights and weekends to meet the needs of working professionals hoping to gain extra training.
“I would love to say double [the program’s size] but it’s going to depend on the numbers of programs that are needed,” she said.