Rainmakers? Health Care
Though the larger U.S. employment picture remains murky, there is a clear upward trajectory for jobs in the health care industry. An aging population, new technologies that drive better care and cost containment, and new federal legislation that expands credentialing requirements for health care workers create a perfect storm for robust and growing
The U.S. Department of Labor projects that some 3. 2 million new health care jobs
will come on line by 2018. But are community colleges prepared to be “rainmakers”
for this gathering storm?
Not without new strategies that take into account market and legislative trends,
says Betty Young, president of Houston Community College’s Coleman College for
Health Sciences (“Next-Generation Health Education,” p. 14). Young urges community colleges to align their programs with the new and various requirements of
the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, which directs the “
expansion of credentialing to all health care workers” and adds new skill requirements.
A key component of HCC’s approach: integrated contextual learning across the
New occupational categories are also emerging. In “Local Workforce Rx” (p. 26),
Managing Editor Corey Murray and fellow education writer Ellen Ullman highlight several emerging opportunities in the health care job market. Among close
to 200 allied health fields that will be in high demand are such little-known jobs
as health care informatics, dietetic technician, and medical coding specialist. Many
colleges are taking a more holistic approach that will prepare students for a variety
of roles. At Milwaukee Area Technical College, for example, a new Health Services
Management track focuses on “the business of health,” requiring fewer clinical and
more management skills, such as billing and scheduling.
Future health care professionals will also have a powerful new tool to help
identify the wide range of career choices, assess their aptitudes for chosen areas
of study, and find a college where such programs are available (“A New Standard
of Care,” p. 20). The American Association of Community Colleges will soon debut
its Virtual Career Network (VCN). Built with a $6.6 million grant from the U.S.
Department of Labor, part of a larger health care job training package authorized
by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the open-source, open-platform VCN creates an online career management model that administrators
hope to adapt to other industry sectors beyond health care.
Despite their advantageous positioning as the education provider of choice for
the majority of nurses and allied health workers and the growing market demand
for such professions, community colleges face an uphill battle in meeting the
nation’s career training needs.
In “Going Lean” (p. 32), business and education writer Alan Joch describes a
worsening funding landscape, one that is forcing a shift in funding sources and
how community colleges conduct business. Such draconian measures as eliminating faculty release time, hiring more adjunct faculty, and cutting underperforming
programs are increasingly common. And things could get worse before they get
better, as once-heretical notions like enrollment caps threaten the community
college’s traditionally open door.
EXECU TIVE EDITOR Norma Kent
MANAGING EDITOR Corey Murray
ART DIREC TOR Brian Rees
PROJEC T MANAGER Jerry Parks
CONTRIBUTING John Sygielski
WRITERS Tabitha Whissemore
PRINTING RR Donnelley–Liberty, Mo.