PHCC launches PLUS 50

August 26, 2014

Patrick Henry Community College wants to help older area residents return to college. 

The college has launched a PLUS 50 Professional series with the help of a three-year, $15,000 grant funded by the Deerbrook Charitable Trust through the American Association of Community Colleges, according to Yvonne Price, PLUS 50 Encore completion coordinator.

PLUS 50 grants were awarded in the spring of 2013 to 100 colleges nationwide. PHCC was one of four in Virginia. The others were Blue Ridge Community College, Virginia Western Community College and Southside Community College, Pride said. 

Grant funds can be used to offer training in the health or medical fields, education, and human or social services, Price said. They also can be used for additional training on computers or in English or math, she said.

College officials met with a business and industry leadership team and representatives of the health care, education and social services areas to get feedback on what to offer for training and retraining to people age 50 and older, Price said. 

“The college already provides training in most of those areas, but folks in their 50s and over sometimes need additional help in using computers,” she said. “Folks in the area sometimes need help with grammar and communication skills. Health care industries are interested in and place a lot of importance on customer care with patients.”

As a result, the PLUS 50 Professional Series was created, with three courses designed to fit those areas. Each course costs $25. 

Courses are:

• Beginning Computers with Keyboarding. It will meet from 9 a.m. to noon Thursdays, Sept. 11-Oct. 2. 

This course is designed to take away the fear and uncertainty of using the computer. Students will learn about computer systems, their components and different types of electronic communications. They will gain experience with email, web browsers and the different types of websites. The keyboarding component will include the layout of the keyboard, placement of their fingers on the home keys and the uses of the function keys.

• Communication and Grammar for the Workplace. It will meet from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesdays, Oct. 8-29. 

The course will start with getting back to the basics of grammar. It will review parts of speech, proper use of complete sentences, punctuation exercises and building vocabulary. Email etiquette, memos, business letters and various business correspondences will be covered.

• Customer Service for Health Care. This will meet from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Nov. 4-25. 

Students will gain an understanding of how fundamental customer service principles apply to the health care industry and how to deliver exceptional customer service. They will learn how to measure customer satisfaction, set expectations and recover lost customers. They also will gain insight into generational differences as they may relate to the health care environment.

The courses are designed for people age 50 and older, but Price said people of any age can take them. Those people could be employees who need to improve their skills or people seeking a competitive edge as they look for jobs, Price said. 

“It’s scary to think about going back to school. We hope this might be a small step to their coming back to school and retraining,” she said.

Price noted that many people aged 50 and older lost their nest eggs and pensions in the economic downturn. “We are trying to encourage them to retrain in an area they feel passionate about and feel like they are giving back to the community,” she added. 

PHCC also has set up a PLUS 50 peer group where people can get assistance, suggestions and share problems or concerns, Price said.

“We want people in that age group to feel comfortable coming back to school. They contribute so much to campus life here. Typically we have a good blend with different generations on campus. That’s what we’re working to do with the grant,” she said. 

Registration for the courses is open; pre-registration is required. For more information or to enroll, call 656-0260. Price also can be contacted at 656-0354. 


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