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Graduates of the Biomedical Technician Program Train for the Jobs of Tomorrow

Community College of Philadelphia is preparing students to join the next generation of scientists through the Biomedical Technician Training (BTT) program, jointly developed by The Wistar Institute and our institution in 2000.

The BTT program was created to provide a gateway to the high-growth, high-demand life sciences workforce. In August, 10 students from the BTT program received their completion certificates at a ceremony held at Wistar. Since its inception, a total of 140 students have completed the BTT program, the majority of whom are female and from underrepresented minority groups.

BTT is designed to prepare students for new career opportunities as research technicians. The program combines academic course work at the College with specialized training in research laboratories at Wistar and other affiliated research facilities. This dual experience offers students seeking an associate degree the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to qualify for positions as technicians in biomedical research laboratories at academic institutions and at biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. These positions are traditionally held by graduates of four-year baccalaureate programs.

“We are going into the 18th year with this program and we are training students for the workforce giving them the potential to be hired in the region as the next generation of scientists,” said Dr. William H. Wunner, Director of the Biomedical Technician Training Program at Wistar.

Amanda Moran, class speaker at the ceremony, seized the opportunity to apply to the BTT program while she was waitressing and pursuing her associate degree in Liberal Arts – Social/Behavioral Science. After graduating from the College in 2015, she wasn’t sure where her next chapter in life would take her until she learned about the BTT program through a friend. She loved her biology class and had a fascination with cells, so she knew this would be the next step. 

“I used to be a waitress and didn’t like going to work every morning, but now I love what I do and this is the path to my success,” said Moran. “I am grateful to the other interns and the lab mentors.”

Moran is transferring to Byrn Mawr College this fall as a Katharine E. McBride Scholar where she will pursue her bachelor’s degree in Biology. Bryn Mawr’s Katharine E. McBride Scholars are women over the age of 24 who are in the process of beginning or completing their college education. Moran’s dream is to eventually complete her Ph.D. in Genetics.

Bunthon You, another graduate, is entering Temple University School of Pharmacy this fall. He graduated with an Associate of Science in Biology in 2015 and currently works in the College’s biology lab. “This program taught me so much about lab technology and research. After completing pharmacy school, I want to do something in drug research at a pharmaceutical company,” said You.

 “This joint venture with the College and The Wistar Institute has so been successful in training and preparing our students to enter the biomedical research arena,” said Dr. Kristy Shuda McGuire, associate professor of Biology and academic coordinator of the Biomedical Technician Training program.

This past spring, the BTT program was expanded into the first ever, registered nontraditional apprenticeship to have been approved and credentialed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The new Biomedical Research Technician (BRT) apprenticeship builds on the BTT program training to give interns more lab hours under the direction of scientists. Labs today are dependent on teams of skilled technicians, which opens doors to good-paying jobs.