NECC Expands Health Care Programs, Thanks to State Grant


Wider range
Northern Essex Community College now has a state-of-the-art lab for its dental assisting program, thanks to a recent MA Capital Skills Grant.


Good News for NECC Health Care Programs

Northern Essex Community College is expanding its health care programs, thanks to a $400,000 grant which the college recently received from the Massachusetts Skills Capital Program.

The grant was part of $11.7 million awarded by the Baker-Polito Administration this year to help high schools, colleges, and other educational institutions invest in the most up-to-date training equipment in fields including construction, engineering, hospitality, and health care. Since 2015, Skills Capital grants totaling $78 million have been awarded to 280 different programs.

The college will use the funding to replace the 40-year-old dental assisting lab located in the Dimitry Building on Franklin St. in Lawrence with a new state-of-the-art lab and add an Evening Dental Assisting Program option to the existing day option.

In addition, the college will purchase three new manikin simulators, and, for the first time, offer high-demand micro-credentials for area health workers who are required to update their credentials regularly.

“This is great news for the college, our community partners, and anyone who accesses health services in the Merrimack Valley,” said Scott Lancaster, interim dean of health professions. “Our facilities for training health care workers are the best. That, combined with the quality of our faculty, means our students are getting the best preparation for future careers in health care.”

Dental Assisting: Evening Option

The college is recruiting students now for the first Evening Dental Assisting Program, which will begin in March. The three-semester program includes a 300-hour dental assisting practicum in the final semester.

Demand for dental assistants is expected to grow 7%, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is why the college decided to expand the program.

“Our dental partners needed more graduates and many students who were interested in the program couldn’t access the day program because of work or family obligations,” said Lancaster.

The college’s Day Dental Assisting Program currently has a capacity for 30 students. Adding the evening option will increase capacity to 55 students.

The new dental lab will feature five operatory dental chairs as well as other equipment.

Dental assistants provide patient care and maintain patient records, in addition to working closely with dentists and dental hygienists and assisting during procedures and examinations.

New Micro-Credentials

Adding three new manikin simulators—Luna, an infant; Lucina, a maternity patient; and Juno, a clinical skills manikin—will allow the college to offer the micro-credential certifications that health care workers need in different fields.

These short term programs will run annually, or more frequently if needed, and be open to the community. This is a new area for Northern Essex and the first programs to be offered will include Advanced Cardiac Life Support; Pediatric Advanced Life Support; Neonatal Resuscitation Program; and Emergency Medical Services. The college hopes to launch the micro-credentials in late summer or fall.

“By offering these credentials, we can expand our partnerships with area health care providers,” said Lancaster.

Health Care Opportunities at NECC

A third of the students at Northern Essex are enrolled in one of the college’s 22 associate degree and certificate programs in high-demand health care fields, ranging from nursing to respiratory therapy to sleep technology. Most programs are located at the El-Hefni Allied Health & Technology Center on Common St in Lawrence.  The 44,000 square foot facility features a Health Education Simulation Center, where health care students receive hands-on experience in simulated environments such as a hospital intensive care unit, a trauma room, an acute care hospital room, an apartment, an ambulance, and a doctor’s office.

To learn more, visit the website or contact Lancaster at

Northern Essex Community College has campuses in both Haverhill and Lawrence. It offers approximately 60 associate degree and certificate programs as well as hundreds of noncredit courses designed for personal enrichment and career growth.  Each year, 6,000 students are enrolled in credit associate degree and certificate programs on the Haverhill and Lawrence campuses; and another 2,000 take noncredit workforce development and community education classes on campus, and at businesses and community sites across the Merrimack Valley.  For more information, visit the website at or call 978-556-3700