Peconic Bay Medical Center signed an agreement this week with Empire State College to allow students in the hospital's school of radiology to earn credits for their course work at PBMC toward a bachelor's degree at the SUNY college.
Radiology students, hospital officials and college officials gathered in the first-floor atrium lobby at Peconic Bay Thursday afternoon for a ceremonial contract-signing.
Peconic Bay's radiology school is one of the last hospital-based programs in Suffolk County. Founded 41 years ago, the school trains radiologic technologists in an increasingly sophisticated, growing field. There is a shortage of radiology technologists nationwide.
"Our students work very hard learning radiologic technology," PBMC president and CEO Andrew Mitchell said Thursday. "Now they will be able to get credits for their learning and hard work here toward a bachelor's degree from SUNY Empire State," Mitchell said.
Mitchell credited radiology school director Frank Zaleski with "taking the program to the next level" since his appointment as director three years ago. "He has every day raised the bar for the quality of the program and with endeavors such as this."
Zaleski said PBMC's radiology school is dedicated to providing the health care system with compassionate, competent, registered radiographers who are credentials by the Americal Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
"We have a responsibility to continue our education," Zaleski said. "This opportunity provided by SUNY Empire State allows our graduates to continue to grow." Earning a bachelor's degree opens doors for radiology school graduates to enter management and education positions.
Empire State College, also founded 41 years ago, provides college education for adults through guided independent study, online learning and small study groups. It offers flexibility in learning opportunities for adults whose lives are already full with career and family obligations, Long Island center Dean Michael Spitzer said.
Spitzer said Empire State will award students 32 credits for the work they complete at PBMC's radiology school.
"For those of you who've earned your associates degree before you began this program, you will have 96 credits before you even begin at Empire State College," Spitzer told the students gathered in the lobby. "With another 32 credits you can graduate with a bachelor of science degree." Spitzer said health care industry trends today make getting a bachelor's degree important for an individual's future career path.