The U.S. Dept. of Labor revealed that the health care industry must fill millions of job vacancies in this decade. This includes nurses and other “frontline” patient care workers.
To meet this demand, many health care institutions are creating “career ladder” programs, which train workers internally. Many of these programs have been set up to help underrepresented minorities and lower-income workers.
There are nearly a dozen different, interconnected health career ladders. A nursing career ladder may start an individual in maintenance or food service. These workers may have had poor grades in school or have no health care work experience. Many are minority employees looking for the opportunity to move into higher paying jobs. Diversity is also an asset for the health care organization. Many patients feel more comfortable talking to someone who shares their cultural background.
Career ladders offer underrepresented employees a variety of pathways to interesting and rewarding health care careers. Another benefit is that participants can always change course and explore new career options. If you're working to become a home health aide, you can move into the field of surgical technology. Once there, you can continue training as a physician assistant, or again into nursing.
Let's say you're a recent high school grad and you want to pursue a nursing career. You can't afford college or a pricey private school, so you signed up for the career ladder program in nursing at a local hospital.
You'd probably start in Environmental Services cleaning patient rooms. After a year, you'd complete your nurse’s aide training, followed by three months of classroom training to qualify for nursing assistant. Now you're making more money and really getting highly useful on-the-job training. You're acquiring new skill sets, which will qualify you as a nurse extender earning up to $14 per hour. You'll work directly with patients, gaining more skills and experience. If you want to continue your studies to become a registered nurse, the hospital will pick up the tuition tab and offer you a flexible work schedule to attend classes at the local college. Not a bad way to go for someone who started cleaning rooms.