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BCAT adds additional free tuition medical classes

Nick Lippa

The Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT) has been offering free adult workforce classes the past few years on Buffalo’s Main Street for medical coding and pharmacy technician training. This fall they are adding to that.

A Citi Foundation $150,000 grant will be used for two new programs -- Phlebotomy and Sterilization Processing and Distribution.

BCAT Director of Development Crystal Selk said the new programs target adults 18 to 24 looking for a new career.

“Our students who are coming in are mostly high school graduates or just recent graduates and maybe have attended college or have not attended college yet and are really looking to find that entry point in to the growing health care industry in Buffalo,” she said.

Selk said some common themes of the students they have seen are those starting a second career, getting back in to the workforce and being underemployed.

“All of our trainings are the gateway in to really successful career paths,” she said. “Our students start in medical coding but then they go on to supervisory roles, they go in to additional responsibilities and with that comes pay rises and title changes and all of these benefits that people might not necessarily think about when they initially come in to the program.”

Phlebotomy class has been filled for the fall, but another cohort will start in the spring. BCAT is currently recruiting for medical coding classes that start in January.  

Selk said the newer classes will help to get people in to the workforce sooner.

“Our current classes were able to serve 36 students every year under our license under the New York State Department of Education. With these new classes, we will be able to serve an additional 72 students a year. So we’re really growing the impact and outreach at BCAT,” she said.

About 100 people have graduated from BCAT’s programs so far according to Selk. She added that number coincides with a 90% employment rate.

“Our students in pharmacy tech and medical coding right now have the opportunity to take national certification exams so they are nationally certified,” she said. “We’ve already had our medical coding classes out on their internship right now and three of our students have already passed their nationally certification exam. They’re right on track for a successful bright career.”

Selk said she thinks they are filling a need for free education in the community

“When our students come in, they’ve been through different life challenges. From all different perspectives. We, with our holistic approach to education, give students that second chance to realize how strong they are and how much they grow through our program and how much they are able and willing to contribute to our community,” Selk said.

Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.
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