February 24, 2004
There is a need for nurses
in the United States.
"The United States
is in the midst of a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify
as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Compounding
the problem is the fact that nursing colleges and universities across
the country are struggling to maintain enrollment levels which remain
insufficient to meet the projected demand for nursing care."
You may have heard mention--on
the news, from teachers, or elsewhere--that there is a shortage
of nurses. Have you heard that there is a shortage of health care
workers? When you think of health care workers, what comes to mind?
"Is there a shortage
of health care workers today? Yes. Recent surveys conducted
by the American Hospital Association and OHA [Ohio Hospital Association]
showed a number of unfilled positions. The AHA documented over 168,000
unfilled positions including nurses, pharmacists, technologists,
aides, and other health care related positions (AHA Workforce Shortage
Health care workers are
more than doctors and nurses. What else is there? How can you find
out about other job or career opportunities? How can you know if
there is a health care profession that might fit your interests?
One thing you can do is "Browse health and medical science
careers by the six categories below that relate personal interests
to favored work environments." (The number indicates how many
possible career paths the site describes in each category.) There
could be something for you if you consider yourself:
"Artistic (4) I like
jobs that involve a degree of self-expression and working with forms,
designs, and patterns and without a clear set of rules."Conventional
(7) I like jobs that involve following set procedures and routines.
These occupations can include working with data and details more
than with ideas. There's usually a clear line of authority to follow.
"Enterprising (6) I like jobs that involve starting up and
carrying out projects, leading people, making many decisions, and
dealing with businesses, and it sometimes requires risk taking.
"Investigative (41) I like jobs that involve working with ideas
and requires an extensive amount of thinking.
"Realistic (13) I like jobs that involve working on practical,
hands-on problems and solutions, often with real-world materials,
tools, and machinery.
"Social (36) I like jobs that involve working and communicating
with, helping, and teaching people."
With all the possibilities,
you may find one--or more--that sound interesting; but maybe you're
still not sure what you want to do. As you travel through high school
and college, how can you decide if a health care profession is right
for you? Many hospitals offer volunteer programs similar to this
"If you are 14 years
old or older and in high school, the Hospital of the University
of Pennsylvania offers many opportunities for career exposure in
a healthcare profession. Many high schools require students to commit
to community service, or provide students with career enhancement
opportunities in service learning programs. Teenagers who wish to
complete volunteer service or would like to spend time learning
more about health care are welcome to join the HUP Volunteer Team."
If a health care career
is one that you are considering (or if you are still not sure what
you are considering), then there are many benefits to you as a volunteer.
A few include:
"* Exposure to medicine or healthcare field of choice
* After completing the minimum service requirements, a letter of
recommendation to a college program of your choice or a letter confirming
service/learning, or required community service will be written
by Manager, Volunteer Services
* While becoming a volunteer at HUP does not lead directly to employment
at HUP or admission to a college program, it does provide volunteers
with experience and valuable skills for future education and employment..."
While helping others as
a volunteer, you receive benefits that can help you make decisions.
Whether or not you decide the aspect of health care in which you
volunteered is a path on which you want to continue, your new skills
and experiences can make you more appealing when you are applying
to college or trying to get a paid position at a later date. If
you decide that health care is for you, then what do you do? Have
you decided to work with those in your community? Maybe you want
to work somewhere else.
"The National Health
Service Corps (NHSC) is committed to improving the health of the
Nation's underserved....Approximately 50 million people live in
communities without access to primary health care. At NHSC, we are
working to change this by helping medically underserved communities
recruit and retain primary care clinicians, including dental and
mental and behavioral health professionals, to serve in their community."
If you do decide that you
are willing to be flexible about where you eventually look for work,
then there are programs like the NHSC available to help you help
those areas with the most need.
"We provide students
and clinicians with the support and assistance they need to fulfill
their career goal of helping communities in need. NHSC offers:
·Meaningful student and resident opportunities to work on interdisciplinary
health care teams, or community projects, in underserved areas;
·Competitive scholarship and loan repayment programs for students
and clinicians committed to serving the neediest communities;
·Job placement assistance in underserved communities
students and clinicians who commit to improving the health of the
Questions of the Week:
How could you use your unique skills to help the community as a
health care professional? What tools and resources are available--in
your area or online--to help you figure out if there is a health
care profession that might be right for you? What volunteer opportunities
are available in your area that might help you confirm or refine
your career path?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum