There are no excuses.
“And there are so many excuses,” said Dolly Horton. “One thing is they have to overcome their fears. You have people who haven’t been in a classroom in years. They don’t have confidence in themselves, and that’s where we meet them—we find ways to make it for them.”
Dean of the Allied Health Division at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College (A-B Tech), Horton has heard every reason in the book for someone avoiding a chance to forward their education, especially in the growing field of health care, an industry in which A-B Tech has become a Western North Carolina leader.
“When you find someone who went to a community college, you’ll find someone who had their life changed for the better because of that school,” Horton said. “Our vision is strengthening lives and changing communities, and that’s what we continue to do here at A-B Tech.”
With a variety of programs—health care, child care, public service—this branch of the institution has attracted students from around the region and across Southern Appalachia. The school offers a range of options, from 16-week certificates to one-year diplomas to two-year associate degrees.
“Each program has three parts to it,” Horton said. “You have the didactic learning, which is theory and textbooks; laboratory procedures, where they perform skill sets they learned in the classroom; and then they transfer those skills into a live patient or laboratory setting, and that ranges from the Mission Health System to long-term health facilities or physician practices.”
“We have a great dialogue with the communities and health providers here. They tell us what they see and need coming down the pike.”
—Dolly Horton, Dean of the Allied Health Division at A-B Tech
Horton pointed to three reasons why Allied Health stands apart from similar programs at other community colleges.
“For one, we teach a very specific skill set, so that once students complete their schooling, they’re employable,” she said. “And while most community colleges like Allied Health are governed by SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and School), we place another level of accreditation from an outside agency. We’re also very scripted, where each class is meant to build atop the one just completed—it’s a very standardized and defined line of courses.”
And it is these exact things that ensure the quality of students being let out into the workforce.
“The rules and regulations on what we teach and how we teach it, how often we access it, even the type of instructors we hire, it’s all governed very carefully,” Horton said. “And what results is a quality and qualified student that is very desirable in the healthcare system.”
Within the popularity of Asheville and Western North Carolina, two demographics have increased exponentially, especially in terms of health care needs: young families and senior citizens. “There are a lot of folks moving here to retire, and the need for health care has skyrocketed,” Horton said. “Folks are living longer, staying healthier, and also leading more active lifestyles.”
Though the foundation of Allied Health is on solid ground, A-B Tech continues to find and implement new and innovative ways and means by which healthcare is taught and also provided to the general public.
“We’re always keeping our finger on the pulse of what the community needs and where we can grow as an institution,” Horton said. “We have a great dialogue with the communities and health providers here. They tell us what they see and need coming down the pike. It’s about always adding more strategic programs—what more can we do to be a step ahead?”
A-B TECH PHOTO