Delgado A-Z: Ophthalmic Medical Assistant

By: Dee Shedrick
Medical assistants work in doctors' offices and various healthcare facilities completing administrative and clinical duties. Their responsibilities depend on their specialty and size of practice. While most assistants document patient history, schedule patient appointments and fill out insurance forms, ophthalmic medical assistants help optometrists (who treat minor eye problems and prescribe glasses and contact lenses) or ophthalmologists (who are medical doctors that perform surgeries) with patient eye care. Ophthalmic medical assistants do have simple obligations like contact lens instruction and sterilizing surgical instruments. But they can also have more complex duties like administering medication, repairing eyeglasses and aiding in diagnosing conditions, such as red eye or astigmatisms. Delgado Community College has been preparing over a dozen ophthalmic medical students each fall for the past 15 years to work in this demanding field.

"Students often choose ophthalmic medical assisting because it offers a number of career pathways," said Francesca Langlow, assistant professor and ophthalmic medical assistant program director. And even though most of the fields require some additional education, graduates continue to pursue work beyond ophthalmic medical assisting; for example, there are ophthalmic photographers, equipment manufacturers technical and education reps, low vision specialists, pharmaceutical sales reps, coding specialists, surgical techs and practice administrators. Still many of the graduates choose to work in the traditional role of an ophthalmic assistant in an ophthalmologist’s office. "I have always recommended that students choose something that gives them a lot of options and this field does."
Exam chair located in the ophthalmic medical assistant program's lab in the allied health building
Ophthalmic medical assisting is also very attractive because ophthalmology is one of the few “blood-less” medical fields.  The eyes rarely bleed, so for students who are interested in working in health care, but do not want to deal with or see blood, this job is perfect for them.

Most of the program’s graduates remain in the Greater New Orleans area. Dr. Jeffrey Singer, who is best known for performing laser eye surgery, has six or seven graduates that have worked in his office for more than 10 years. Ochsner Ophthalmology and Tulane Ophthalmology are also some of the better known ophthalmology providers in the area who have hired Delgado graduates. And even though Kung Parc, who graduated in 2009, enrolled in optometry school at the University of California, he plans to move back home to work with low income patients.

Standard eye test chart
Students who graduate with their certificate of technical studies in ophthalmic medical assisting usually work in the industry for a long time and Langlow is a prime example. "I graduated from Louisiana State University's School of Allied Health with a Bachelor of Science degree in ophthalmic medical technology and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of New Orleans.  I worked for several years at the LSU Eye Center in the clinical trials unit. I have been at Delgado teaching the ophthalmic medical assisting program since 1999. I absolutely love my job, the students, my colleagues and Delgado.  It is so rewarding to see the program’s graduates working and excelling in their field," said Langlow. 

Langlow is also married to an ophthalmologist who specializes in glaucoma and practices in St. Tammany Parish.


Delgado A-Z: Northshore

by: Tyler Scheuermann
and Ashley Chitwood
As New Orleans continued to expand geographically, satellite campuses of Delgado reached out to populations across Southeast Louisiana. While a satellite site was established in Covington in the early 1990s, the new millennium saw a renewed emphasis on offering a Delgado education to the exploding population on the northshore of Lake Ponchartrain.

Delgado Northshore was created in 2002 as a response to workforce and community needs north of Lake Ponchartrain.  Prior to this, Delgado’s presence on the Northshore was a satellite learning center in Slidell.  Opened in 1988, the Slidell Learning Center had reached a steady enrollment of approximately 700 students by the year 2000.  The purpose of the Slidell Learning Center was to offer foundational academic courses as a feeder to Delgado programs in New Orleans or transfer to area universities.  There had been a time in the early 1990’s when a limited number of courses were offered in Covington, but it was short-lived because it did not meet the needs of the community at the time.

Slidell learning center dedication ceremonies
 With the opening of the Greater Covington Area Outreach Center in 2002, Delgado seized the opportunity to expand its commitment to the growing Northshore community by creating the Delgado Northshore division.  Delgado Northshore united Covington and Slidell into a cohesive unit, taking an entrepreneurial approach to offering an ever increasing complement of courses and becoming more involved in local business and community affairs.  Delgado was aggressive in its pursuit of grants and focused on community partnerships to position higher education in the area to be able to respond to local needs.  From developmental to general studies to pre-requisite courses for south shore programs, Delgado Northshore grew to keep up with the higher education demands of the community it now served.  In fact, Delgado Northshore has experienced a 400% increase in headcount enrollment since fall of 2001 (763 to 3057) compared to a college-wide increase of 140% during the same time period.  Since the fall of 2006, annual comparison of semester enrollment has increased 19% on the average with some years experiencing over 30% growth.

Covington site in the 1980s
The Northshore division quickly established working relationships with local universities and businesses to develop partnerships to foster growth both in and out of the classroom. Having multiple levels of higher education, working together for the benefit of the student to create a variety of options for entry and exit, gives Northshore residents the ability to start where they need to (academically, financially, geographically, socially) while encouraging them to continue along a career lattice or pathway to long-term success.

Delgado’s presence on the Northshore brings high-quality education to local residents, allowing them to access a better quality of life without the barriers of travel across the lake.  But Delgado means more to the Northshore community than merely increased access to post-secondary education.  In a 2009 economic impact study conducted by GCR & Associates, Delgado Northshore has the following impact:

•    Total economic impact on the greater metro economy of $58,149,251 with the much of this impact captured within St. Tammany Parish;
•    1,016 of the 75,117 jobs in St. Tammany are filled by Delgado graduates from the last five years;
•    These graduates will earn $12.89 million more this year than they would have without their Delgado training; a total of $25 million in impact if you factor in the multiplier effect – just for graduates from the last five years!

Delgado Northshore currently serves over 3,500 students in credit courses between the Covington and Slidell locations.  Course offerings range from developmental to general education to full programs of study. Northshore residents can complete several programs of study, including technical competency areas, certificates or associate degrees, without ever having to travel across Lake Pontchartrain.  Students can choose many additional programs of study for which they can complete either pre-requisites or even 50 percent or more of a degree before they have to travel to Delgado’s City Park, Charity or West Bank campuses.  Taking the burden of a commute out of the equation makes it easier for Northshore residents to commit to higher education that is meaningful and has a long-term impact on quality of life.

Faculty & Staff at Northshore site
Every semester, Delgado increases its commitment to the Northshore community by expanding course offerings and working with businesses to design customized workforce training solutions.  Current articulation agreements exist between Delgado and many area universities to encourage students to continue pursuit of higher education beyond an associate degree.  With Southeastern alone, articulation agreements exist in general business, accounting, marketing, management, finance, and computer information technology. Add to these the newly-developed Associate of Arts Louisiana Transfer (AALT) and Associate of Science Louisiana Transfer (ASLT) and residents of the Northshore have the greatest opportunity for higher education attainment than ever before.

Delgado Northshore students do more than just attend class.  Through Delgado’s service learning program, repeatedly recognized as a member of the President’s Honor Roll for Community Service, students are giving back to the Northshore community as part of their education.  The Fine Arts department has been involved with the school system and engaging children in the creative process.  The Arts students also coordinated efforts of their peers across the college to raise over $2,000 for the St. Tammany Parish Hospital Foundation through the Delgado Butterfly Auction event.  The department is currently working with Southeast Hospital on an installation of student works and their impact on patient peace of mind.  Other Northshore service learning projects have included working with the Food Bank, creating a brochure for awareness and working directly with the food pantry and reflecting on social justice issues; working with Sunshine House in Slidell, learning about abnormal development while providing quality of life interaction; horticultural beautification projects; even assisting veterinary clinics with OSHA compliance.  Delgado students know the value of their degree; now they are also discovering their value and responsibility as members of the local community.

Delgado Northshore has seen increasing population since the months following Hurricane Katrina when the Northshore locations reopened to serve students.  By providing easy access to many of the college’s numerous programs, the Northshore sites are just another example of Delgado’s Education that Works!


Delgado Launches a New Radio Station

By: Dee Shedrick
In the 90s, the idea of a radio station for Delgado was bounced around, but it wasn't until the fall of 2011 that the Dolphin Radio became a reality. One of the obstacles that kept the station from getting off the ground was a place to house the station, but when the Bursar's office moved to Building 2, space became available in the Student Life Center.

Sound waves can be heard on campus for about two miles from the school on 1610 AM. There’s also a station on the FM dial – 96.3 – that reaches just outside the Student Life Center. Additionally, listeners from all around the world can log in to www.live365.com/stations/dolphinradio to hear Dolphin Radio. Because towers are expensive and the fact that the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) is not giving out anymore licenses, Internet radio is the best option for the radio station. "There isn't any more room on the dial," said Susan Hague co-founder of the station along with Robert Dunn. Hague and Dunn are both instructors at the College. Hague did the research and applied for a STEP (Student Technology Enhancement Program) grant to fund the project. And Dunn, who has a background in radio and TV production, connected and assembled all of the equipment, such as the software, computers, radio transmitters and antennas, with the help of a couple of electrical engineering students.

Bob Dunn one of the co-founders of Dolphin Radio
The station started with automatic programming, before students began volunteering to DJ live on the air. But from its inception, the radio station has had a very eclectic playlist from every genre, featuring New Orleans brass band music, to Tony Bennett, to hip-hop. "I think the only thing that we don't have a lot of in there is classical," laughed Hague. There is even a two-hour talk show. Down the line, there are plans to expand the radio station and have transmitters at each campus. "I would also like to air radio dramas, comedies, play-by-play sports and remote broadcast of campus events,” said Dunn. Recently, steps have been taken to get a live broadcast of athletic events up and running. Dunn, a student volunteer and a member of the athletic staff, setup equipment and streamed a baseball game on the Dolphin Radio. They performed the test run to see how much equipment and staff would be needed to pull it off.  

Bob Dunn on the air live in the studio located in the Student Life Center
Dolphin Radio is a student-run radio station with 23 volunteers; however, one radio class is offered where students actually receive credit and get hands-on experience working with the station. Faculty and staff are involved as well. "I am excited; my first job was in radio and I love it. It's a kick to have one hour a week on the radio. I have a Thursday 2 o'clock show. I just play all of my favorite music from my personal collection," said Hague.

Computer and sound board equipment inside the radio station


Delgado A-Z: Motor Vehicle Technology

by: Hilton Guidry
By the 1920s the price of a Ford Model T was an affordable $260. It was also one of the first automobiles to be mass produced with interchangeable parts. The love affair between Americans and the automobile industry was well under way. But it wasn’t until 1945 when Charles B. Cousley organized the automotive mechanic training program. At first, only night classes were available on campus. Most of the students were apprentices and the classes were not very hands on. By 1947 a limited number of students (mostly veterans returning from WWII) were taking classes during the day but the school still did not have the proper funds to purchase suitable equipment and tools needed for the program.

Ford Model T
In 1954 Delgado purchased approximately $10,000 of equipment at half-price from an automotive school that had recently closed. Two years later, Delgado signed industrial contracts with GM, Chrysler and Ford, and the companies donated instructional materials and automobile parts to help the program. As the school continued to grow in the 1960s, the relationship between the school and major American automotive companies grew stronger and in 1968 Ford donated additional auto equipment to help maintain the program. 
Automotive school students in the 1950s
Just as they had after WWII, many Vietnam veterans took advantage of the GI Bill and enrolled in the automotive program in the 1970s. By the early 1980s the industry started to change. Cars were not just engines, transmissions, tires and other moving parts. Computers were now an important part of every automobile and students had to learn how to run diagnostics test before they could repair a car. Former department chair Joe Cruthirds and other members of the department went to Detroit and Dearborn, Michigan for training at the corporate headquarters of GM and Ford to keep up with the ever changing technology. Also, Cruthirds said local dealerships began sending their technicians to Delgado for training when the manufacturers started closing training facilities in the area. “We started to build good relationships with the local dealers. So we created training programs for their technicians,” said Cruthirds.

Students preparing a car for paint and body work in the 1970s
According to Joe Cruthirds, who started teaching at Delgado in 1977, enrollment was high and new facilities were needed. The school held automotive classes in both Building 8 (where horticulture is now located) and in the back of building 1 (where the fitness center is now located). In the 1980s under President Harry Boyer new facilities were being built and renovated around campus. It was around this time the motor vehicle technology program really started to develop. Building 40 was constructed in the early 80s as the main auto shop to replace the other locations on campus. Building 41 was built a few years later to house the regional GM Training Center for dealership employees to get continuing education. In the early 90s, Delgado gained two auto programs, GM ASEP and Ford ASSET. Both programs were designed for Delgado students, some of whom would eventually work for a GM or Ford dealership. These programs were eventually moved into Building 39.

Automotive shop before the current facilitates were built
The Vocational Technical Complex contains Building 39, 40 & 41where the motor vehicle technology program is located
Automotive Lab & Machine Shop
After teaching at Delgado for over 30 years, Cruthirds decided to retire. Cruthirds had become the department chair and was looking for a replacement. He turned to one of his former students and current instructors Don Davenport. “Like most of the faculty here in the department, I was a graduate of Delgado. I applied my trade for about 30 years before I came back to Delgado. But in the meantime I was an adjunct teaching at night and working during the day. Joe started twisting my arm around 2004 to work here full time, since then, I’ve never looked back,” said Davenport.

Students working in the body shop
Continuing Education Class with mechanics from local dealerships
“When I was a student here, you could probably get 80% of all the knowledge you need to fix cars by attending classes,” said Davenport.  “Now students really need to use their critical thinking skills to solve problems. There’s been such advancement in technology; I can’t tell you where we will be in five years from now, it’s so rapidly changing.” To keep up with technology, Delgado will be offering an Advanced Automotive Technology course next year and is in the process of developing a high performance training program so students can work on automotive racing cars.

Wheel balancing station in the automotive department
Female student working in the auto painting class
The Motor Vehicle Technology department currently has 300 students enrolled in classes. A handful of the students are female and according to Davenport, they can hold their own against fellow male classmates. “They put some of the guys to shame; a guy will come in here all macho claiming to know everything about cars and try to bluff their way through the courses. A woman will come in not knowing a whole lot, but they are ready to learn.” Most of the students who graduate will work for a dealership or a chain type shop like Firestone, while others will get into automotive body work. The program also participates in the ASEP GM challenge where they compete against other programs in the region (an automotive quiz bowl, but more hands on) and regularly attends World of Wheels trade shows.

Don Davenport and students at the World of Wheels show
Rebecca Lindell (left) earned AkzoNobel’s “The Most Influential Women of the Collision Industry” scholarship. Brandi Gray (right) received a tool grant from Craftsman
Tracy Nguyen also received a tool grant from Craftsman
As Davenport explains, students need to be more technically inclined now more than ever to compete in the automotive repair industry. With hybrid cars that run on electricity and hydrogen becoming more popular in the future, students need to keep up or as Davenport said, “Pick up a hammer and go do something else, because if you are not sharp and bright, you don’t have a future in this industry.” From a car that looked like a like a horseless carriage in the early 1900s, to the high performance vehicles that will become the cars of the future, Delgado students will keep motoring along with this ever evolving industry.