Thanks to the growing medical needs of aging baby boomers, virtually any career having to do with healthcare is expected to experience explosive job growth through 2010 and beyond. Topping the list are nurses – but countless other healthcare professionals are going to be in short supply as well.

Still, interested recruits in healthcare can face a daunting challenge. Since state budget cuts have reduced class offerings at both community and four-year public colleges, where can you find an affordable training program that isn’t already overcrowded? Maybe right in your own backyard.

In most every community in California, aspiring healthcare professionals need only turn to their local adult education centers to acquire quick and accredited training. In cooperation with Boston Reed, a private educational service, adult schools throughout the state offer a wide range of healthcare courses that can lead to instant employment.

For example, in the 17-week clinical medical assistant program offered at many adult schools, the required internship (set up by Boston Reed) often leads to employment with one of a thousand participating physician offices. Even those who fail to get hired after their internship acquire invaluable professional experience for their resume.

Particularly attractive to aspiring medical assistants is the cost for tuition and books – only $895. Students incur a few additional charges for a CPR card, a TB test and health screening, a smock and a dictionary of medical terms.

When you consider the program provides you with a new job skill in just over four months, the program is quite a bargain. “Adult schools are the best-kept secret in California education,” believes Alice Chegia, director of sales and marketing for Boston Reed.

Convenience is another plus. All classes provided by the Boston Reed program are designed for working adults, with lessons offered two evenings a week or on Saturdays.
Shortcut to the Nurses’ Station

The program provides graduates an affordable way to gain a nursing degree. “It used to be that you had to have a bachelor of science to have your RN,” explains Chegia. The ever-worsening nursing shortage has changed all that. The aging of the population, coupled with the looming retirement of a large number of nurses, makes the field one of the fastest growing in the nation. Thousands will be needed to fill the vacancies, while still more will be needed to accommodate growth in the field.

All these factors have made nursing programs ease their requirements, according to Chegia. Now, programs take an applicant’s clinical experience into consideration.

Under this new attitude, students can complete two adult-school courses – medical or nursing assistance, then a licensed vocational nursing program – and qualify to enroll in the last year of a nursing program offered at a number of state colleges. That plan could save the student thousands of dollars.

Many employers help workers advance their careers by underwriting their efforts in a variety of ways. In some cases, Chegia reports, a healthcare worker can go from a relatively low-paid aide to a $45-an-hour nurse at the same facility in the course of a few years.

However, tomorrow’s nurse may not be employed in the traditional hospital setting, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An increasing proportion of sophisticated procedures, which were once the domain of hospitals, are being performed in physicians’ offices and clinics, ambulatory surgical centers and emergency medical centers. Accordingly, employment for nurses in these settings is expected to grow faster than average as healthcare in general expands.

Employment at outpatient care facilities, including nursing homes, is expected to increase as technology allows healthcare providers to treat patients in a non-hospital setting in order to cut costs. Growth in units that provide specialized long-term rehabilitation for stroke and head-injury patients or that treat Alzheimer’s also will increase employment.

Another trend sees nurses rotating among employment settings. Because jobs in traditional hospitals are no longer the only option, RNs need to be flexible. Opportunities should be excellent, particularly for nurses with advanced education and training.
Quick Cure for Unemployment

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