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MSTC looks at degree for aging population

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. (WSAU) – Mid-State Technical College is looking at adding a new degree that would train students to work with a growing elderly population.

The college's board of directors approved a scope proposal Monday night. The vote clears the way for college officials to continue exploring the gerontology associate degree program. The state technical college board could approve the degree next month.

The school has begun to survey potential employers to see whether the need exists for students with such a degree. The survey will likely be done by mid-May and the college could launch its program early next year, if the need exists.

Wisconsin's senior population – those 65 and older – grew by more than 10 percent in the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census counted 777,000 senior citizens in Wisconsin in 2010 or just under 14 percent of the state's population.

Students who take the program will learn how to provide recreation, housing, social services, financial assistance and advocacy for the elderly, said associate dean for service and health programs Beth Smith.

“The person who has earned this degree will have a broad range of skills that will allow them to provide those services,” she said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Mid-State would be only the second technical college in the state to offer such a degree. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College began offering its degree last fall.

On the Web: Hear Beth Smith talk about MSTC's plans for a gerontology associate degree

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