South Florida Hospital News
Monday October 26, 2020
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August 2017 - Volume 14 - Issue 2
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Dr. Richard Prentiss Brings Wealth of Health Care Experience to New Role at Miami Dade College

In late May, Dr. Richard Prentiss became the interim campus president of the Medical Campus at Miami Dade College. An 18-year faculty member, he most recently served as the director of the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) and Accreditation Process, and was the department chairperson for the School of Health Sciences on the Medical Campus for 14 years.

A credentialed respiratory therapist and emergency medical technician, Dr. Prentiss also directed two respiratory care departments at hospitals in Miami-Dade County before joining the college. He received an Associate in Arts and Associate in Science in Respiratory Therapy from Miami-Dade Community College; a diploma from the Miami Hospital School of Cardiopulmonary Technology; a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Florida International University; a master’s in Health Management from St. Thomas University and a doctorate degree in Higher Education Administration from Florida International University
 
“In my new role, I want to continue making the Medical Campus the top educational health care facility in the region,” he said. “I also want to make sure that we provide our graduates with the right competencies to meet all area employer and industry needs.”
 
As interim president, Dr. Prentiss is responsible for the overall operation of the campus which includes both the Benjamin Leon School of Nursing and the School of Health Sciences. The college’s nursing program offers students a traditional associate’s degree, as well as an RN-to-BSN program.
 
“We have 23 different allied health professions in the School of Health Sciences, where students can earn associate and baccalaureate degrees, vocational credit certifications, and college credit certifications,” said Dr. Prentiss, adding that there are approximately 5,000 students enrolled on the Medical Campus.
 
Dr. Prentiss said that one of his goals is to increase the number of students enrolling at Miami Dade College, which he hopes to do through community outreach. “Almost all colleges and universities are seeing a dip in enrollment; it’s a national trend,” he explained. “This is consistent with a good economy—as the economy improves, people tend to choose jobs over training.
 
“We are reaching out to more high schools and grassroots organizations, and are doing more information sessions out in the community,” he continued. “We’re talking to people about starting a second career, or changing careers, or looking at health care as an alternative to other careers.”
 
Finding funding for programs is also a priority, especially with less money coming from the Legislature. “We are always working to demonstrate to our legislators the importance of investing in education, but it’s a challenge for us as an educational institution because we depend on those funds to support our programs,” said Dr. Prentiss. “Additionally, we are always looking for different revenue streams and new grant opportunities to support programs and initiatives on campus.”
 
One of Dr. Prentiss’ strengths is that he brings a lot of real-world health care experience to his new role, with more than 30 years of clinical experience in direct patient care and 20 years’ experience in the development, implementation, and review of educational programs associated with Health Sciences.
 
“While working on the QEP program, I also worked with the District Office; this provided me with an enhanced understanding of the relationship between the campuses and the District Office,” he said.
Dr. Prentiss is also focusing his attention on two major construction projects currently underway on the Medical Campus. “We have broken ground on a $60 million, five-story, state-of-the-art facility that will include clinical simulation and new lab space for some of our existing programs,” he said, adding that the building is expected to be move-in ready by early 2019. “We will also build a six-story parking structure.”
 
In the longer term, Dr. Prentiss wants to make sure that the school continues to provide graduates with the right competencies to meet local employers’ needs. “We are currently affiliated with more than 800 clinical sites where students do rotations, and we’re looking at opportunities to expand those offerings,” he said. “We have an unmatched team of faculty and staff and are up to the challenge.”
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