The Gould Medical Academy, located inside the Gould Community Resource Center (the former Simmons Bank) at 101 North Main Street, is about to start operation. The city-owned school is offering classes for phlebotomy technicians, pharmacy technicians and medical office assistants.
The school is part of Mayor Earnest Nash’s “Project Phoenix,” the city’s Economic and Community Development Strategic Plan.
Nash said the city “made history” when it was granted licenses by the Arkansas State Board of Private Career Education on Oct. 29.
Nash said licensure is required when the education is offered in Arkansas or when recruiting students to attend a school located in another state.
“This is a first step: by having a local private career school that offers programs which can lead to or enhance one’s career,” Nash said.
Nash said about 20 students registered for classes last Saturday. There will be another registration at the school this Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nash said the classes, which will commence on Dec. 2, will be from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., five days a week for six months.
Those successfully completing the course in phlebotomy, which the mayor said seems to be the most popular class so far, will receive a certificate from the school and be eligible to take the national phlebotomy exam. (In fact, the phlebotomy registration has been so great that the school will likely run evening classes as well, Nash said.) Those completing the pharmacy technician course also receives a certificate and will be able to take a state pharmacy technician exam. There is no national or state exam required for the medical office assistant, but graduates will receive a certificate from the academy.
“The costs of the classes are $5,000 each,” said Nash. “But we do have avenues of financial assistance to help with the cost.”
The teachers are all local and are compensated from the tuition costs. The school also employees a paraprofessional (to help with computers) and a site coordinator, who is in charge of the school.
“I don’t believe that we can get a major manufacturing company to come into our city,” Nash said. “So we’re trying to train our citizens in a skilled work set. And the most popular skilled work set at this time is the medical field. The jobs in the medical field are many and they are very lucrative. We already have a future plan for the school.”
Nash said that he would like to have a new building to house the academy and offer GED classes and more medical courses, as well as culinary arts, since hospitals and nursing homes also need cooks.
Nash said that while the city owns the school, the school is controlled by a three-member board. So far the board only has two members, William “Dubs” Byers and Terry Murry, but a third member from the private sector is still being sought.
“I’m excited about it and community members and leaders seem to be excited about it,” Nash said.
“I’m just happy that things are finally starting to move in a positive direction for the city.”
At Saturday’s registration, Nash will again be aided by consultants Carol Brown and Bronwyn Criner, who will be present to answer questions concerning financial assistance.
For more information about the classes, contact Nash at 870-818-7630.