Building a future

  • Tags: Academics | College Publication
Published 06/29/2022
From left to right: Fred Vogt, professor of biology, Kelli Marlin, medical assisting program director, Shelby Stanley, ophthalmic technician program director, Wendy Miller, dean of health professions, math, science & engineering

From left to right: Fred Vogt, professor of biology, Kelli Marlin, medical assisting program director, Shelby Stanley, ophthalmic technician program director, Wendy Miller, dean of health professions, math, science & engineering


Elgin Community College is known for offering innovative programs that provide students with access to in-demand training and education. One area of continued growth lies in the programs celebrating a decade of progress since the construction of the health and life sciences building in January 2012.

The facility contains 29 classrooms, laboratories, and teaching spaces that simulate the environment in which future graduates will work.

“Our equipment for hands-on practice is spectacular,” said Wendy Miller, EdD, dean of health professions, math, science, and engineering. “Students have opportunities to learn and practice skills on campus before going into a clinical setting. This gives them more confidence when working with patients.”

Construction is currently underway to complete the third floor, which will add classroom and lab spaces, study spaces, and offices to support the new ophthalmic technician and medical assisting programs and a new lab for biology. The new programs will launch at the start of the fall 2022 semester.

Local health care agencies reached out to ECC in hopes the college could start these programs to help with regional demand. ECC also received a state grant to develop the ophthalmic technician program degree. Ophthalmic technicians assist ophthalmologists in caring for patients’ eyes and eyesight. The program will prepare students through ophthalmologist job shadowing, three clinical experiences, and career development help with résumé writing and preparation for the certified ophthalmic technician exam. “The ophthalmic technician program will bring the unique field of eye care to ECC’s Health Professions Division,” said Shelby Stanley, ophthalmic technician program director. “Eye clinics in the area are excited to partner with our program for clinicals and are already looking forward to having our graduates in the job market. This field is full of opportunities and rewarding work.”

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, by 2030, the market need for ophthalmic technicians will increase by 14%, with demand for medical assistants expected to increase by 18%. Medical assistants perform the vital role of gathering and translating a patient’s issues and needs to a physician, along with performing many clinical duties such as taking and recording vital signs and drawing blood. Medical assistants also ensure medical offices and clinics run smoothly by scheduling appointments and maintaining medical records. For full-time medical assisting students, this is a three-semester vocational certificate program. It is designed to prepare students to be competitively recognized in the field by being able to take the registered medical assistant exam and become certified by American Medical Technologists. After completing a medical assisting certificate, students can qualify for jobs as medical assistants, medical office assistants, specialty medical assistants, and more.

The health and life sciences building is home to the college’s health-related programs, including biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, environmental biology, massage therapy, dental assisting, radiography, clinical lab technology, health and wellness management, histotechnology, nursing, physical therapist assistant, surgical technology, and phlebotomy. “When you see students walking around in their scrubs representing different health professions, you can almost imagine yourself being in a health care clinic,” said Miller.

With its newly added programs and building updates, ECC’s Health Professions Division provides a range of opportunities to appeal to prospective students interested in working in health care fields. In turn, it gives the community a skilled workforce ready to put their education to work. “As dean, I’m so proud of my health professions team,” said Miller. “The work they do to prepare our graduates to care for our community is phenomenal.”

Visit the Health Professions webpage to learn more about the new programs starting in Fall 2022.