With the current shortage of physicians, WCA Hospital is looking for new ways to draw students into the medical field.
WCA held a career day on Friday, bringing in area students from kindergarten through college in order to give them a first-hand glimpse into a career in health care. The event was opened with remarks from Jana O'Camb, interim director of human resources at WCA hospital, who explained to those in attendance that there are likely many more jobs in health care than what they might realize.
"I think it's important that kids need to know from a young age what is available in the health care field," said O'Camb. "Everyone thinks of doctors and nurses when it comes to this type of profession, but that isn't where it stops - there are a lot of other opportunities available. We really want to increase awareness of the other careers that we have a available here. There are opportunities whether you're a high school graduate or you have an advanced degree."
A member of WCA emergency medical services gives a tour of the Starflight
helicopters for the students attending
P-J photos by Ryan Atkins
During the career day, tables were set up in the WCA Hospital auditorium with health care professionals from many different fields including nursing, occupational and physical therapy, pharmacy, WCA Hospital School of Radiologic Technology, speech and hearing, information systems, emergency medical services and more. Tours of the Starflight helicopters were also available to any of the students that attended the career day.
"We have over 300 clerical positions here, covering everything from unit clerks to secretaries," said Jessica Hunt, volunteer coordinator at WCA. "There are RNs, environmental services - some of these don't even need a high school diploma. We hire counselors, nurse aides, registrars - the number of positions that we hire for is just so vast. We've done career fairs in the past, but this is the first time with these three groups of students."
Students at the event came from Jamestown Community College, Jamestown Loving Education At Home, and Hewes BOCES center. Liz Nixon, field trip coordinator for Jamestown LEAH, said that in the past, students that she works with have come to WCA and enjoyed what they've learned during their time there.
"Once a month we go on a field trip, and this time we decided to come to WCA," said Nixon. "We did it once before, maybe five or six years ago with just our homeschool group, and the kids really enjoyed it. It's nice to be able to go out and get hands on experience in the community to see the jobs that are out there. We have a few students that are interested in health care right now - there are a couple of boys that are interested in medical careers. If WCA ever opens up other events like this, we love having the chance to get involved. We would probably jump on that opportunity."
Although Hunt doesn't have any concrete evidence showing that these career days have had a positive effect on the number of young people entering the health care field, she said that she still feels they serve an important function.
"Events like this can be used to plant the seed in order to get kids thinking about what they need to do in their education career if they want to go into the medical field," said Hunt.
According to a report from the Hospital Association of New York state, the demand for nurses and other healthcare professionals is anticipated to continue to rise. According to O'Camb, WCA is using these career days as a way to inspire and encourage students to enter this field of work.