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Actions to increase career awareness in health care career fields:

5a. Parents must be targeted as the first priority to be made aware of the richness of careers available in health care for their children. Educators state that parents do not realize the opportunities that are available for their children in vocational, technical and community college education. Many parents feel that they have failed if their children do not attend a four year academic institution. They don’t realize that nearly half of American students who enter college fail to earn a degree within six years and that less than one-fifth of the nation’s high school freshmen complete a college degree in a timely manner. Parents need to be made aware of and embrace the concept of career ladders as a viable option for their children entering health care. Parents must also be made aware of the importance of basic math, English and science while their children are in high school in order to prepare them for college and/or the workplace. Thus, parents can insist their children take college-preparatory courses and the high schools offer more opportunities for students to earn college credit or to pursue training to win certification for entry level health care careers. Healthcar e, business, education, media, faith-based, community, philanthropic and social service organizations must align to launch a campaign to educate parents on the career opportunities in health care and the importance of high school preparation. For example, multiple “open houses” targeted towards parents in health care institutions in conjunction with education and community organizations could be held.

5b. School system administrators, high-school principals, teachers and counselors require supplementary and uninterrupted instruction and resources on the careers available in health care. Many counselors’ knowledge of health care career fields is based upon what they see in the popular media. A poll of 100 high school counselors revealed that not one knew of the professions of Registered Health Information Technician (RHIT) or Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA). Yet, these professions are part of the fastest growing career field in health care. Health Care Information Management has one of the greatest demands for workers in Northern Virginia. The health care industry and higher education must work in concert with the Northern Virginia public school systems to “educate the educators” in health care careers and the preparation required to enter these careers. Students need career counseling and information early in their education experience.

5c. Intensive efforts must be made to enlighten and expose students early and throughout their middle and high school years on the variety of health care careers and the preparation required to enter these fields. Efforts must be made to target college students who started with a four year program and dropped out and those who have completed four years and have no marketable skills and/or jobs. There must be an alignment and resource commitment by healthcar e, business, education, media, faith-based, civic, philanthropic social service organizations and workforce economic development authorities to accomplish this objective. Example:

  • A health care organization, an educational institution, and a public school district could link together to pilot a comprehensive health careers awareness campaign for middle and high school students. Once the concept is developed and proven, all the health care institutions, educational institutions, and school districts in Northern Virginia should be invited to join the program.

5d. A health care career web site should be developed, specific to Northern Virginia as a resource for parents, educators, students, media, employers, faith-based, civic and social service organizations.

5e. Northern Virginia businesses and philanthropic organizations should assist in the sponsoring of a sustained media campaign (TV, radio, print) informing parents, students and the general public about the opportunities available and the requirements for careers in health care.

5f. Establish a centrally located health career information center which will provide parents, students, educators and social service organizations with current and correct information regarding the numerous health career paths available.

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