College graduates first class from Fast Track Healthcare program

Published 6:18 pm Monday, December 31, 2018

Paul D. Camp Community College recently celebrated its first class of the Fast Track Healthcare program offered in downtown Suffolk. Twelve graduates were honored during a completion ceremony held Dec. 17 at the city’s Workforce Development Center.

In March, Birdsong Trust Fund funded the $24,000 start-up cost for the Suffolk program.

“The Birdsong Trust Fund is excited to play a major part in this unique opportunity to help the citizens of Suffolk take advantage of Paul D. Camp’s offering of the Fast Track Health Care Program, which will help meet the demands of the local health care industry in Suffolk,” said Birdsong Trust Fund Secretary Billy Chorey Sr. “It’s personally very gratifying for me to see local students given the chance to be placed into high demand jobs right here in Suffolk and to know that I’m a part of a great organization that helps to facilitate that very thing.”

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The program is offered through PDCCC’s Division of Workforce Development and is a curriculum that bundles Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, Certified Phlebotomy Technician and Certified EKG Technician to graduate students who can fill needed jobs in the college’s service region.

“We are happy to collaborate with partners like PDCCC to provide training and employment opportunities for Suffolk citizens and those in surrounding areas. The quality of training provided by PDCCC at the Suffolk Workforce Development Center yielded a 100-percent graduation rate, which would not have been possible without the generous grant of $24,000 to PDCCC,” said Larry Brunson, Suffolk Workforce Development Center coordinator. “These funds were used to purchase the medical equipment needed to train the students. Now after graduation, 12 deserving students will have the opportunity for a brighter and more self-sufficient future.”

Angela Lawhorne, director of workforce development at PDCCC, had launched a pilot program in spring 2018 at the Franklin campus. The Birdsong Trust Grant funded the equipment at the Suffolk Workforce Development Center to provide the same training at the Suffolk location. This will be the second graduating class for the program and the first at the Suffolk Workforce Development Center.

The non-credit FastForward program was initially intended to train for a career in clinical medical assistant, but lead instructor Dawn Womble expanded it to include the other credentials as well and had the program running five months after its inception.

“The incredible thing about this program is that students don’t have to have a medical background to enroll, and depending on what direction in which the students want to head, they can complete one or all parts of the program,” said Womble. She said that 11 out of the 12 students passed their certification exams. The pass rates for the Fall 2018 Suffolk group are CPT—100 percent, CET—85 percent, and CCMA—92 percent.

Several students’ tuition was paid by the Hampton Roads Workforce Council, formerly OPP Inc.

The guest speaker for the event was Seko Varner, who runs his own entertainment firm, directs a youth mentorship program, volunteers with Green Run High School and works as a One-Stop operator for the Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board.

In addition to celebrating the graduates, the following were recognized further with the presentation of awards:

  • Most Improved Student—Eboni McCray and Darna Riddick
  • Most Helpful Student—Natasha Sloan and Ashley Rife
  • Sunshine Award—Tyeshia Whitfield and Brittany Joyner
  • Most Dedicated—Tonya Boone and Tarnisha Johnson
  • Leadership Award—Natasha Sloan and Laquita Goodman
  • Clinical Excellence—Ashley Rife and Imari Wrenn
  • Academic Excellence—Shayla Hale, Alesia Hale and Natasha Sloan

The students completing this program and passing their certification exams go to work in a shorter amount of time than a credit student who is working toward a degree would.

“Fast Track is where it’s at,” said Eboni McCray, of Suffolk. “I gained an extra family here. I’ve never had a sister, and now I have 13.”

According to graduate Laquita Goodman, also of Suffolk, the program is intense, as there is a lot of information taught in a short amount of time. “Be prepared to hit the ground running,” she advised potential students.

Womble said that members of the Birdsong Trustee Board and PDCCC President Dr. Dan Lufkin visited the classroom recently.

“The students were able to demonstrate the equipment and tell them about their experiences in the clinical setting,” she said. “Bayview Medical Center played a big role in providing the clinical sites in which the students worked.”

The first Fast Track Healthcare class on the Franklin Campus graduated in July 2018. For more information about the program, contact the Workforce office at 569-6050 or visit