Local job-seekers will find ample opportunities — and training — in the health care sector. Area hospitals, physician clinics and assisted care facilities need skilled workers, and the Triad’s community colleges offer an extensive array of training programs, including some that can put people to work in new careers in less than four months.
“There are so many opportunities in health careers now,” said Warren Crow, assistant professor and director of Health Careers and NA Training Program at GTCC. “You can pretty much go anywhere and work in the field in which you were trained.”
As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the need for health care professionals is predicted to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the demand for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses (LPNs and LVNs) is expected to increase by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024.
One of the most popular — and in demand — career options is certified nursing assistant, or CNA. CNAs provide personal patient care, such as feeding patients, and they work closely with the nursing staff.
At GTCC, the CNA program involves both classroom and clinical study, and students can enroll in morning, afternoon or night sessions. After three months and two weeks, graduates are ready to enter the workforce.
“The CNA training is really a great foundation,” Crow said.
Graduates can apply what they learn in more specialized training, including nursing programs. Also, he said CNAs are needed in a wide range of workplace settings, from traditional hospitals to nursing homes to in-home care.
Similarly, he said, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapy assistants and certified medical assistants (who work in physician offices and clinics) are also in-demand occupations.
Cone Health is one of the Triad’s major employers, with 12,000 employees in a five-county region. Grace Moffitt, Cone Health’s executive director for talent management, said the system has a constant need for clinical professionals.
“We always want to have experienced nurses come to Cone Health,” she said.
In addition, Moffitt said there is a strong demand for CNAs, nursing techs, certified medical assistants, phlebotomists and imaging technicians.
“The needs we have range from a four-year degree to a two-year degree to a certification,” she said.
Many local high schools offer certified nursing assistant courses, and Moffitt said students who are interested in health care careers should explore those programs, even if they plan to attend a two- or four-year college.
Not all health care industry jobs involve direct patient care. For example, Moffitt said health care systems are placing a greater emphasis on “Big Data” and need professionals who can analyze this information and identify trends.
Crow said GTCC recently started training for centralized cardiac monitoring professionals. These employees work remotely and constantly check the information transmitted from patients’ heart monitors, allowing hospitals to intervene earlier and more quickly if a patient needs heart care. In addition, Crow said electronic health record-keeping is a growing area of need.
Moffitt said hospitals like Cone Health always are looking for people to work in housekeeping, environmental services and nutrition.
“We have a lot of places for many people to join us,” Moffitt said.