New scholarships support students who train to collect life-saving blood donations

Versiti, which supplies life-saving blood for medical procedures in Michigan and four other Midwestern states, is funding Grand Rapids Community College scholarships to train the people who collect those donations.

The blood supplier plans to award four Versiti Phlebotomy Skills Scholarships annually to cover tuition for GRCC’s Phlebotomy Skills program. The first two scholarships are going to students in the latest session of the program, which started Feb. 7.

Hannah Tuuri, Versiti Inc.’s talent acquisition specialist, said the organization hopes the scholarships encourage people in underrepresented populations to consider this career.

“Versiti is committed to building ethnic diversity within the donor population,” she said. “The scholarship is designed to help us develop diversity within our industry and teams to ensure that we reflect the population which we serve.”

Growing demand 

Linda Witte, program developer for GRCC’s health certificate programs, said demand for phlebotomists is projected to grow by 21% each year, with 400 job openings annually. GRCC’s 10-week Phlebotomy Skills program is presented in a hybrid format, with lectures online and smaller groups of students meeting in person on the downtown campus for labs and demonstrations.

“This is a skill-building course,” Witte said. “About half of the people who come into this class are already working in health care, and the other half are looking for that entry-level job.”

More information 

Those who are interested in the Phlebotomy Skills program can find more information online.

Dr. Kathryn Mullins, vice president of college advancement and executive director of the Grand Rapids Community College Foundation, said the Versiti Phlebotomy Skills Scholarships will encourage people to train for an important job, benefiting all of West Michigan.

“Community partners like Versiti are critical to GRCC’s role of providing people with opportunities for higher education and skills training,” she said.

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Read more articles by Shandra Martinez.