Source: The KY Standard
This year, a dozen students from Nelson County are getting a jumpstart on careers in a good-paying, high-demand industry thanks to a new program with a regional hospital.
The students are bused every school day to Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown where they spend 90 minutes accompanying health care professionals on rotations in 13 different areas of the medical field. They get to experience firsthand what it means to work in areas such as the emergency department, respiratory therapy, rehabilitation and intensive care units, as well as witness natural and C-section births and study skilled nurses on the job.
The students have the opportunity to earn certifications that can lead directly to jobs in their chosen fields so that they can start working after high school graduation even as they continue to further their educations with post-secondary courses if they so choose
The goal of the program is to provide students interested in going into nursing or another medical field a more comprehensive understanding of health care. It is a recent example of how local school districts are intensifying their focus on work-based learning.
This program, and others like it, serve students in several ways.
First, it helps to focus students and give them a real-world view of what a job entails. About eight in 10 college students end up changing their majors while they are enrolled in college, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and most of them do so at least three times. There are many reasons college students do so, but for many of them they simply decide they don’t want to do something for the rest of their lives after they get a little taste of it in a classroom. This can cause delays in graduation and impact them financially. Never mind the student who graduates with a degree and gets into the workplace only to discover he hates his chosen career path.
Early exposure helps, especially in career fields that require extensive training and specialization. But these sorts of programs also demonstrate to students the importance of so-called “soft skills,” which basically break down to acting professionally and responsibly in the workplace like showing up on time, respecting your coworkers and supervisors and work ethic.
To get such an opportunity in the health care field is especially useful. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over the next decade, health care occupations will grow 14 percent, much faster than most other occupations. And they pay well. BLS reported that the median annual wage for health care practitioners and technical occupations was $66,440 in May 2018. That compares to the median annual wage for all occupations in the economy at $38,640.
The Nelson County Area Technology Center and HMH are showing how partnerships between education and businesses can impact individuals’ lives and also set our communities up for success. The goal is to double the number of students served next year.
This is the sort of effort we should all get behind and support.