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Health care vocational school opening in Stratford

Hoping to address the growing demand for medical technicians and assistants, a new vocational school is opening next month in Stratford, aiming to train students for careers in the health care industry.

The American Institute of Healthcare and Technology (AIHT), a for-profit college founded in 2006 in Piscataway, N.J., will offer training programs for aspiring medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, ultrasound technologists and computer application programmers, among other fields at a new Stratford location.

AIHT, which has leased 4,300 square feet of space at the Stratford Executive Park, will be the only school within the Bridgeport metropolitan area to offer an echocardiography technology course, school representatives said.

“There are a couple private schools who teach these programs,” said Ravish Shah, AIHT business development and research manager. “But they do not have all these programs under one roof. There is a demand for this.”

Shah said the programming would offer students a path into the medical field, provided they pass the national exams required for certification.

Like many health care professions, demand for medical assistants and technicians is projected to expand significantly in the coming years in Connecticut, in part due to the growth of the region’s elderly population.

Nationwide, the number of medical assistants is expected to grow 34 percent between 2008 and 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing fields of employment, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Connecticut, the health care industry accounted for nearly 20 percent of the state’s private sector workforce as of the second quarter of 2012, according to data released last month by the state Department of Labor (DOL).

Nearly 255,500 Connecticut residents were employed in the health care and social assistance fields at 10,140 worksites in the second quarter, with average quarterly wages of $11,870, according to DOL data.

AIHT’s programs vary in length between one and 20 months, with students able to take classes during the day or evening or on weekends.

All the schools programs require a high school diploma or GED equivalent, making it a good option for people who are unemployed, recently graduated high school or are looking for a career change, Shah said.

Since leasing the property, it has taken just eight months for the school to refurbish its interior and receive approval to begin enrollment from the Connecticut State Office of Higher Education, Shah said.

The lease was negotiated by Jon Angel, president of Angel Commercial L.L.C.

The school’s Stratford location is modeled after AIHT’s Piscataway campus, which graduates more than 250 students a year.

“We are subject-matter experts,” Shah said. “We’re not new to this business but we are new to the area.”

Shah said the school’s goal is to graduate at least 70 students from the Stratford location in its first year and to continue to expand from there.

With its success in New Jersey and a lack of similar programs in Fairfield County, Shah said the school is confident it will succeed in providing motivated students with well-paying jobs. Once hired, graduated students can earn anywhere from $30,000 to $70,000 a year, he said.


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