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Investing in its workforce, Atlantic Health System creates “tech schools” at Overlook Medical Center, offering certification in high-demand positions

October 21, 2021

Students in the phamracy technician certification program practice a simulation at Overlook Medical Center.

SUMMIT, NJ – OCTOBER 2021 – Atlantic Health System has created two “tech schools,” based at Overlook Medical Center, to allow existing team members to obtain radiological technologist certifications, or to become certified pharmacy technicians.

The programs are aimed at not only enriching the skills of Atlantic Health System’s own workforce, but also bolstering the number of team members at its hospitals who hold these certifications, which are in high demand in the health care field.

“Training our own team members gives us the dual advantages of having individuals who are already acclimated to our organization who are now simultaneously a whole new group of certified professionals that we can call upon when we are in need,”  said Lauren Yedvab, chief operating officer at Overlook. “This means we can put them into action sooner to provide care for our patients.”

Both “tech schools” involve classroom learning - provided through a partnership with Advanced Imaging Review and John Patrick University (radiologic), and the Therapeutic Research Center (pharmacy) - combined with hands-on clinical training, in which students are paired up with individuals within the specialty they are learning. The program concludes with exams reviewed and scored by professional credentialling organizations in each field – for radiology, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT); for pharmacy, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

A student in the radiologic technologist program works alongside a team member at Overlook Medical Center.

According to the federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics, employment of pharmacy technicians has been projected to grow 4 percent from 2019 to 2029, due in part to increased demand for prescription medications. Overall employment of radiologic and MRI technologists has been projected to grow 9 percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the bureau.

For the radiology school, applicants must be licensed with the state, registered with ARRT and are already trained as radiologic technologists. The students are then trained in CT-scanning, MRI and mammography, to achieve certifications in those specializations. The program ranges between 5 to 10 weeks, depending on the specialty. The goal is to train about 120 team members each year.

Anthony Mungo, director of radiology for Overlook Medical Center, who is leading the radiology tech school, said such programs, which he has led at other institutions he has worked at, are both a great employee retention tool and a boon for the health system.

“Through this program, we are making the multi-modality technologist,” said Mungo. “The versatility this training provides makes them more valuable in their field and gives Atlantic Health System greater flexibility to fulfill demand for these services.”

Yahaira Abreu-Rosario, radiologic technologist, is participating in the tech school to be certified as a CT technologist.

The pharmacy technician school, a 12-week program, also aims to fulfill a burgeoning demand, said Agnieszka Pasternak, PharmD, MBA, BCPS, manager for pharmacy services at Overlook, who is leading that program. The program is targeting team members with high school diplomas or the equivalent, currently serving in other occupations who may be seeking different careers with the potential for growth.

“Pharmacy technicians perform vital functions to support the patient care efforts of the pharmacy team,” Pasternak said. “As pharmacists’ duties have gradually become more clinical, techs are taking more operational role, and their job responsibilities are expanding. As our outpatient offerings and specialties grow, we have a greater need for them.”

The radiology tech program began in September with 30 students. The pharmacy program began in early October with two students. Funding for the programs was provided by the Overlook Foundation.

About Atlantic Health System

Atlantic Health System is at the forefront of medicine, setting standards for quality health care in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the New York metropolitan area. Powered by a workforce of more than 18,000 team members and 4,800 affiliated physicians dedicated to building healthier communities, Atlantic Health System serves more than half of the state of New Jersey including 11 counties and 4.9 million people. The not-for-profit system offers more than 400 sites of care, including seven hospitals: Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, NJ, Overlook Medical Center in Summit, NJ, Newton Medical Center in Newton NJ, Chilton Medical Center in Pompton Plains, NJ, Hackettstown Medical Center in Hackettstown, NJ, Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ, and Atlantic Rehabilitation Institute in Madison, NJ.

Atlantic Medical Group, comprised of 1,000 physicians and advanced practice providers, represents one of the largest multi-specialty practices in New Jersey and joins Atlantic Accountable Care Organization and Optimus Healthcare Partners as part of Atlantic Alliance, a Clinically Integrated Network of more than 2,500 health care providers throughout northern and central NJ.

Atlantic Health System provides care for the full continuum of health care needs through 16 urgent care centers, Atlantic Visiting Nurse and Atlantic Anywhere Virtual Visits. Facilitating the connection between these services on both land and air is the transportation fleet of Atlantic Mobile Health.

Atlantic Health System leads the Healthcare Transformation Consortium, a partnership of six regional hospitals and health systems dedicated to improving access and affordability and is a founding member of the PIER Consortium – Partners in Innovation, Education, and Research – a streamlined clinical trial system that will expand access to groundbreaking research across five health systems in the region.

Atlantic Health System has a medical school affiliation with Thomas Jefferson University and is home to the regional campus of the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Morristown and Overlook Medical Centers and is the official health care partner of the New York Jets.