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Foundations of Health

The Foundations of Health program is designed for students pursuing a career in a health-related field.

The program consists of two degree pathways:

  1. Career: Associate in Science in Foundations of Health
  2. Transfer: Associate in Arts in Foundations of Health (including Mass Transfer compact)

Depending on which degree a student chooses to pursue, the total required credits will vary. Students begin by taking Introduction to Health Careers (HTH 101), along with general education requirements. Students will work closely with their assigned advisor to select appropriate courses, guided by their strengths and personal goals.

The courses can be used as a springboard into a variety of health careers. These include immediate certifications as a Nursing Assistant (HTH 210); certificate programs such as Direct Care Worker, Community Health Worker, Medical Billing, Practical Nursing, or Medical Assistant; and degree programs such as Nursing (Associate Degree in Nursing), Radiologic Technology (Associate in Science), Nutrition (Associate in Science), or Human Services (Associate in Science).

Students who provide service and/or support to any state facility working with vulnerable populations (including students in selective programs and HTH 210) will be required to complete a CORI/SORI background check.

If you are interested in learning more about the Foundations of Health program, please attend an information session.


Rebecca (Becky) Lewis, MSW, MPH
Job Title: Dept. Chair/Program Coordinator
Bio: I have been working as the Department Chair for the Foundations of Health program for over five years. My job includes teaching Intro to Health Careers, advising students, developing curriculum, and continuing to build the Foundations of Health program. We have a great team of people and it has been fun to see how our department has grown and changed over the years. I love that my job is always changing.
Outside of work: I have lovely twin girls who are a ton of fun, a dog and a wonderful husband. I enjoy hiking, swimming, and being by the ocean.

Abby Mahoney, MA
Job Title: College & Career Navigator/Academic Advisor
Bio: I have been working as the College & Career Navigator under a Department of Labor Grant for the past two years. In my role, I work with students in the Foundations of Health program as well as prospective students who are navigating the unemployment system at CareerPoint in Holyoke. I enjoy working closely with students to be sure they are on the right path to meet their career goals! Holyoke Community College has so many resources for students who are exploring their career options. I am lucky to be part of a great team of faculty, staff, and students in Foundations of Health.
Outside of work: I am the mom to two children. I am also a competitive runner, striving to be the healthiest person I can be!

Emily Santaniello, M.Ed.
Job Title: Academic & Career Advisor Bio: I have been working as an advisor at Holyoke Community College since 2014. As an advisor I spend most of my days meeting, emailing, and talking on the phone with current and prospective students that are planning to pursue careers in the healthcare field. I believe strongly in a whole-person approach to advising and work closely with students to make sure they are meeting their academic, career, and personal goals as best as possible. I work with online, day, and evening students that are coming to HCC at all different points in their life, which makes each day different and exciting.
Outside of HCC: I love spending time with my husband, kids, and dog. I have a passion for healthy homemade food, traveling, spending time outdoors, and being involved in my children's activities.

Kimberly Slepchuk, M.Ed.
Job Title: Academic & Career Advisor
Bio: I have been involved with the FOH program since its inception at HCC – first as an instructor for HTH 101, then advising students who were in our prehealth major. Beginning in 2012, I began advising FOH students full time. Foundations of Health was the first program on campus to have a dedicated advisor within the major to assist students with their career and academic pathway. I have had the pleasure to work with many students pursuing a career in health care. I meet with students on campus, or via phone and email to discuss their individual goals and assist with college navigation, challenges, and successes as they continue their academic and career journey.
Outside of HCC: I teach health and wellness classes and enjoy spending time with my family and friends.

Janet Grant, MSPH
Job Title: Faculty/Community Health Coordinator
Bio: I was hired under a Department of Labor grant to launch the new Community Health Worker (CHW) certificate and teach its primary courses. Having worked in community-based public health for many years, I am a firm believer in the value of CHW's to improve health outcomes and the quality of life for people in the communities they work in. For this reason, I am thrilled to be part of advancing this profession here at HCC and in the region as a whole.
Outside of work: I walk and hike with my husband, friends, and my dog Obie as much as I can. I also enjoy working out at the Y, practicing yoga, and spending my free time with family and friends.

Elizabeth Hayward-Jansen, BSN, MPH, RN
Job Title: Faculty/Advisor
Bio: I joined the Foundations of Health team in 2013 where I currently work as an instructor and academic advisor. My background includes emergency nursing, community care management, and work with older adults (among other healthcare experiences). I am thrilled to be a part of the hard-working and dedicated FOH team at HCC! We are committed to helping students navigate college and achieve success in a wide variety of health-related careers. We welcome you to come and grow with us!
Outside of HCC: I enjoy hiking, cycling, exploring, and spending time with family and friends.

Choosing to attend college to pursue a career in health care requires dedication, commitment, and many hours of studying. We want our students to be successful and to know that support toward their success is available. Foundations of Health advisors practice proactive, holistic advising.

The Foundations of Health major is for all students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. As a Foundations of Health major, you are assigned an advisor, who will assist you as you navigate your way toward your desired healthcare career.

As a student, you want to be successful in your academics, expedite your time at HCC, network with other students interested in a healthcare career, and, above all, have a familiar face to turn to with your questions. Who will assist you? Your Foundations of Health advisor! 

How to locate your advisor
  • Log into your online services
  • Choose student services
  • Next select Student Program & Advisor Information
  • The name of your advisor will be listed

Schedule an appointment within the first month of the semester. Send your advisor an email message using your HCC email. As a student at HCC, you have an email account which is used by your instructors as well as important HCC announcements.  

After you schedule an appointment with your advisor, write the date and time into your Google calendar, which is part of your HCC email account. It is important not to miss your appointment. If you need to reschedule, use your HCC email to notify your advisor. Make a list of questions to cover, including those about academics, career goals, and your student handbook.

Your Foundations of Health advisor will also assist you with course selection, which depends on your career goal. This is very important, as healthcare programs have specific prerequisites and program requirements, so the earlier you learn which courses you need to complete, the less chance there is of your taking courses you may not need. Your Foundations of Health advisor will also show you how to register for your courses and make suggestions for networking, so you can gain experience in your desired healthcare profession.

What is Foundations of Health and how do I navigate this program?
The Foundations of Health major offers two degree tracks designed to allow students direct entry into a healthcare field upon graduation or preparation to transfer to a bachelor's degree program. The FOH major also includes required courses for students planning to apply to a selective program at HCC including Nursing, Practical Nursing and Radiologic Technology.

How do I find my advisor?
Every student who is enrolled in Foundations of Health will be assigned an advisor. You can log onto self-service using your username and password. Choose "advisor" from the menu. Your advisor should be listed here. If not listed or if you don't have computer access, you can go to Academic Affairs in Frost 317 and ask the administrative assistant. She can also be reached by calling 413.552.2036.

What classes should I take first?
It is recommended that you begin with Introduction to Health Careers (HTH 101). This course will give you information about many options in health care, as well as give you strong support and advising in regard to your personal journey at HCC. Depending on how you score on the placement test, as well as whether you choose the career or transfer track, will determine what other courses you should enroll in. 

What is HTH 101?
Introduction to Health Careers (HTH 101) is the foundation of this program. This is a three-credit course in which students explore the wide range of health-related fields, including those within allied health, mental health, and public health. Some projects in this course include interviewing healthcare professionals and researching health topics that impact local communities.

If I tested into developmental English, are there any courses I can take in this major?
Yes. Although many courses require English 101 eligibility as a pre-requisite, there are several course in FOH that you can take, including HTH 101, SPA 111, HTH 114, GRT 101 and HTH 210.

What is HTH 210?
HTH 210 is a six-credit field experience course designed to give students hands-on experience in health care while earning college credits. The HTH 210 course is linked with GRT 110, Introduction to the Study of Aging, with the option of taking GRT 110 before the field experience or at the same time. Within HTH 210 is the curriculum for a Certified Nurse's Assistant/Aid and at the end of the course students take the exam that certifies them as a nursing assistant (CNA). Students will become proficient in basic nursing assistant skills through lecture, small group activities, and hands-on experience. The benefits for this course are numerous because students gain exposure to hands-on healthcare, earn college credit, and can receive financial aid if eligible. These are skills that are highly valued by all three selective programs at HCC (nursing, radiologic technology, and vet tech) as well as by healthcare facilities and four-year healthcare programs.

Do I have to take HTH 210 if I already have my CNA license?
No. Students who enroll at HCC with a current Certified Nurse's Aide license will receive three credits for already having a certification. Students will then take a three-credit course to supplement their CNA training titled Beyond CNA: Selected Case Studies to give them the equivalent amount of credits to the HTH 210 course. Students should contact Kathy Santos at ksantos@hcc.edu in the office of the dean of Health & Natural Sciences if they are interested in taking this supplemental course.

If I already know which selective degree program I want, do I have to take all these courses?
No, you do not need to complete the entire Foundations of Health degree program prior to applying into a selective program. However, the FOH Career or Transfer tracks are great supports for the hundreds of students each year who are not accepted into the selective programs. It is recommended that students who are not at the top of their class take advantage of these other offerings in order to keep their options open.

How do I know what courses to take as electives if I choose the transfer option?
If you look at the curriculum sheet in the course catalog for the transfer option, you will find a list of courses that will fulfill the requirements for specific healthcare programs at several local colleges and universities.

What kind of jobs can I get with an Associate Degree in Foundations of Health?
With the Foundations of Health career track, a student will earn an associate degree as well as a certificate in one of four areas: medical assisting, medical billing, Direct Healthcare Worker, or Community Healthcare Worker in addition to being able to sit for the Certified Nurses exam. Graduating with an associate degree in addition to having a certificate in a health care field are very desirable attributes for a potential employer. 

Students in the Foundations of Health transfer track are well aligned to transfer to four-year schools for bachelor's degrees in public health, occupational therapy, health administration, and many other allied health majors. 

What is a Direct Care Worker?
A Direct Care Worker helps patients with their healthcare needs in a variety of settings including nursing homes, hospitals, hospices, rehabilitation centers, and assisted living facilities. A DCW combines the specialized training that meets both state and federal standards with academic coursework that students need to successfully apply for entry-level positions.

What is a Community Health Worker?
A Community Health Worker performs activities to promote, support, and protect the health of individuals, families, and communities through client advocacy, health education, and assistance in navigating the health system. Students will also gain experience towards the required hours to apply for state certification through a three-credit practicum.

Are there transfer options associated with this degree?
Yes. HCC has an articulation agreement with Elms College in Chicopee, Mass. Once a student completes the A.S. Degree in Foundations of Health, he/she can apply to Elms for a Bachelor's in Health Services Administration. This is a 20-month, weekend-only program based on the HCC campus and taught jointly by Elms and HCC faculty.

Additionally, if you wish to transfer to a different college under the Mass Transfer Compact, speak with your advisor about declaring as an FOH Transfer major. If you have a specific school or program that you are intending to transfer to, then your advisor can assist you in selecting courses that would be applied toward that major. 

Is HTH 101 Introduction to Health Careers required for selective programs?
No. It is not a prerequisite or required for any of the selective programs. However, many students do find this course helpful in clarifying their career goals.

What elective courses can I take in this program?
The FOH Transfer track has several credits available specifically for taking a variety of elective coursework. The FOH Career track currently has space for 1-2 classes of elective coursework. 


Become a community health worker

Interested in a career in healthcare? Explore HCC's Community Health Worker option through our Foundations of Health program!

Learn more


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