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July 5, 2018

The solution to health care's staffing woes: Laid-off manufacturing and retail employees?

Daily Briefing

    U.S. unemployment numbers are near record lows, yet data show the country's health care industry is facing a significant shortage of workers—and some institutions, such as Mercy College of Ohio, are recruiting former manufacturing and retail workers to address the issue, Parija Kavilanz reports for CNN Money reports.

    How to pave health career pathways to the middle class

    A growing shortage

    According to the consulting firm Mercer, the United States will need to hire 2.3 million health care workers by 2025 to sufficiently take care of the country's aging population. However, Matt Stevenson, a partner at Mercer, said, "Right now, the labor supply just isn't there."

    That's why institutions like Mercy College are recruiting students who have worked in the manufacturing and retail industries—both of which have been subject to significant layoffs from companies like General Motors and Toys R Us.

    Jason Theadore—VP of ambulatory services and business development at Mercy Health, which operates 23 hospitals and 500 health care centers throughout Ohio—said those layoffs could be a major benefit for the health care industry, as workers in both the manufacturing and retail industries are familiar with long shifts and odd hours, and could provide a unique perspective into patient care. "People from diverse career backgrounds are helping us think differently about how we deliver care," Theadore said.

    Mercy College's program

    Every year, about 400 students graduate from Mercy College, which Kavilanz reports specializes in health sciences and has 16 medical programs, which include training for ophthalmic technology and EMT/paramedics. The programs offer both short-term certificates, which can be completed in one semester, and longer-term degrees. A number of the program's graduates end up working for Mercy Health, Kavilanz reports.

    According to Mercy College, almost all of its certificate graduates have gotten jobs within their specialties. Kathy Damshroder is one of those graduates. Damshroder, a hair salon owner, graduated from the program in 2010 with a certificate in polysomnographic technology and has been teaching the trade at Mercy College since last year.

    Damshroder said the long-term job security offered in the health industry appealed to her, as well as the income. "There's bang for the buck," she said, adding, "Entry level pay is about $22 an hour and goes up." Damshroder continued, "The other huge draws are benefits and retirement plans, which I didn't have as an entrepreneur" (Kavilanz, CNN Money, 6/21).

    Learn more: How to pave health career pathways to the middle class

    Learn how America's health care employers and educators can work together to establish the career paths, frontline roles, and partnerships that will build tomorrow's entry-level workforce.

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