“A tsunami is coming.” This declaration came from Collin College District President Cary A. Israel recently as the Board of Trustees discussed ways to avoid catastrophe with the projected shortfall of health care professionals in Texas.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a nationwide employment increase in the health services industry of 21.4 percent – or 4 million jobs – through 2018. For Texas, the prognosis is not good with a projected shortage of 71,000 nurses and 39,000 family physicians by 2020. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the health care iceberg, so help cannot come soon enough.

However, the road to med school and other health care professions will be shorter thanks to a unique partnership between Collin College and the Plano Independent School District (PISD) to create a first-ever Heath Sciences Academy. The unique academy will offer selected students a head start on careers in health care while still in high school, starting as early as ninth grade.

New Academy

Starting in fall 2013, the Health Sciences Academy will offer Plano students interested in health careers the opportunity to earn up to 59 hours of college credit. Students can also complete certifications that prepare them to enter the health care workforce upon graduation from high school.

“Time is the enemy between our state’s population and health care capacity,” Israel said. “In a very real sense, this academy combines some elements of college and high school and readies our community to take care of a growing number of Texans. We believe this unique partnership will serve as a model for other communities to get ahead of the curve. We applaud Plano educators for their commitment to collaboration.”


Dual Credit & Options

Using specialized curriculum and “dual credit” courses, which satisfy high school requirements while earning college credit at the same time, this special academy will help students save both time and money. Students in the academy can choose from a path that offers a solid health science foundation for college or university majors such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, allied health and more or a path toward a certification in electrocardiography, EMT, pre-health information management or as a certified nurse aide to start working immediately after high school graduation.

“I take great pride in the collaborative partnership that Plano ISD is entering into with Collin College on specific college and career paths for students,” Richard Matkin, superintendent of schools at Plano Independent School District, said. “The Health Sciences Academy is only the first step in what I hope is a joint partnership between our outstanding education entities which are both focused on student learning.”

First Applicants

The Health Science Academy will make its home base at Williams High School and Plano East Senior High School. Ninth and tenth grade students began applying in November in anticipation of the Academy debut in fall 2013.

“Parents and students need to know that this is a great opportunity. Medicine and allied health are very competitive fields and this academy stands to give students an edge,” said Dr. Brenda Kihl, Collin College’s vice president/provost of Preston Ridge Campus. According to Dr. Kihl, who assisted with the start-up of the program, research shows that Texas high school students who complete a college course, like dual credit, before graduation are 50 percent more likely to earn a college degree. “Anything we can do to create more graduates and build a more educated workforce makes Texas more competitive,” she said.

Tuition and fees will apply for coursework in the Health Science Academy, but students will be able to take advantage of the lowest rates in the state with Collin College tuition and fees at just $34 per credit hour.

“Time is money, so offering students the chance to bank nearly two years of college credit during high school is a tremendous advantage. 2020 will be here before we know it, so we have to work together if we hope to succeed,” Israel said.

For more information about the Health Sciences Academy, visit healthsciences.pisd.edu.


About Collin College

Collin College serves about 53,000 credit and continuing education students annually and offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs. The only public college in the county, Collin College is a partner to business, government and industry, providing customized training and work force development. Visit collin.edu.