Saying that there is an abundance of open healthcare jobs right now is like saying the sky as blue. It is obvious. Healthcare is in a difficult position right now. The need for healthcare services only continues to rise, yet the number of people working in the field isn’t rising fast enough to keep up. So what do healthcare facilities do? Some are turning to a strategy of introducing high school students to healthcare careers.
It is important to talk about the number of healthcare jobs left vacant by people who are retiring or switching careers. It’s definitely a problem. But it is a problem in every industry. There is a certain amount of churn whether you’re talking healthcare or manufacturing. The other side of the equation is bringing in new people to replace those who are leaving.
Believe it or not, healthcare has struggled in that regard for decades. There simply haven’t been enough young people choosing healthcare as a career to continue producing a steady stream of workers ready to take healthcare jobs. Introducing high school students to the variety that is healthcare is one way to address that.
A Summer Program in Louisiana
A program designed to reach young people potentially interested in healthcare is being undertaken by the Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC). Their program has recruited a dozen students to spend the summer working alongside healthcare professions at the Rapides Regional Medical Center.
Students will undoubtedly be exposed to plenty of doctors and nurses during the summer program. But that is not all they will get to experience. Students are expected to get exposure to virtually every clinical department at the hospital. They will spend time in radiology, rehab services, the NICU, and so forth.
Already, some of the students have remarked about being surprised by all the variety. Like so many other people, their impressions of healthcare revolve almost exclusively around doctors and nurses. It never occurs to them that there are literally hundreds of different healthcare jobs that have nothing to do with wearing a stethoscope and checking vital signs.
Too Much of a Clinical Focus
After hearing what students have to say about their summer program, perhaps it’s time for a bit of reflection. Maybe our culture has helped to create the shortage of healthcare workers by focusing too much on clinical positions. We have made doctors and nurses the face of healthcare despite the fact that, as a percentage, they make up only a fraction of the total number of healthcare jobs that make the industry work.
There are some young people who will set their minds on being doctors and nurses and nothing will sway them. They will be more than willing to put in the time to earn their degrees and get their state licenses. When all is said and done, they will populate the halls of hospitals, healthcare clinics, and private practices.
On the other hand, there are those young people who have no interest in becoming doctors and nurses. That does not mean that they aren’t a good fit for healthcare jobs. Some of them would be a perfect fit for therapy. Others are ideal candidates for lab jobs. Still others would make excellent patient advocates or healthcare IT workers.
It is clear that we need to find some better ways to get all the open healthcare jobs filled. There are no easy solutions to the problem. But one possible starting point is exposing more high school students to the variety that’s in healthcare. Knowing there is more to healthcare than being a doctor or nurse could change some minds.