NOCE’s Short-Term Allied Health Certificates Lead to Lifelong Success Feature Story

June 01, 2022

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to create significant challenges for the healthcare industry, there is a silver lining for those looking to enter the field. Employment in healthcare is projected to grow 16% through 2030, creating roughly 2.6 million new jobs in the allied health field. This growing demand for healthcare professionals means more opportunities for those with the right education— and that’s exactly what North Orange Continuing Education’s (NOCE’s) allied health programs are providing. 

“Our programs are quickly attainable with pay rates that can change a life,” explains Jennifer Oo, faculty lead for NOCE’s allied health programs.

Since 1973, North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE) has been serving the region by offering free, noncredit educational programs and services to empower Orange County residents. Students enroll in NOCE’s noncredit programs to enhance basic skills, gain employable skills, prepare for college credit courses, enhance self‐sufficiency, and more. Programs offered at include adult basic skills (High School Diploma and Literacy Programs), English as a Second Language (ESL), U.S. citizenship, parenting, older adults, short‐term vocational, and programs for adults with disabilities.

Tuition-free career certifications are offered in the areas of administrative professional, early childhood education, electrical technology, funeral service assistant, management, medical assistant, pharmacy technician, and quality assurance for medical devices.

At NOCE, Oo oversees two allied health certificates, the Personal Care Aide Certificate and the Medical Assistant Certificate. Both are offered online and are designed to be completed quickly so graduates can get to work fast. After graduation, students are workforce-ready and prepared for entry-level positions as medical assistants and personal care aides.

“Completing an allied health program is the perfect stepping stone to a career as a nurse, nurse practitioner, or another career in the medical field,” explains Oo. “Students have the opportunity to enter the field early and build experience.”

Personal Care Aides (PCAs) assist people who are sick, physically or mentally disabled, injured, or elderly. They work in various settings, such as clients’ homes, group homes, and day service programs to help with daily living activities. The Personal Care Aide Program can be completed in one semester and taken online so a student can complete the coursework on his or her own schedule and at his or her own pace.

Every other semester, the Personal Care Aide Certificate is also offered as an English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) class. In this class, students receive both curriculums simultaneously as they advance their English skills while attaining a certificate that can lead directly to a great paying job.

Medical Assistants help healthcare facilities run efficiently by performing routine clinical and administrative duties. They work in clinics, doctors’ offices, and patient care settings to prepare patients for exams, schedule appointments, maintain medical and billing records, and more. NOCE’s Medical Assisting Program can be completed in 2.5 semesters or one year and can also be taken online.

Additionally, both are completely free for students, meaning students don’t have to pay for tuition, classes, or books. 

“Getting an education for free is a huge advantage to the students who attend our college.” Explains Oo, “students aren’t aware that a $13,000 loan equals a $500 monthly payment for a few years.”

This summer, NOCE will remodel its clinical labs to benefit hybrid learners by installing cameras for students to watch instructors remotely so they can gain experience without going to a clinic. In addition, the simulation lab will feature computerized mannequins with lifelike wounds that can be cleaned, bandaged, and reassessed.

“If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, now is the perfect time to do it,” says Jennifer Oo. “The faculty at NOCE is dedicated to every student’s unique success.”

For more information about NOCE’s many career-focused programs, please visit