Public Issues Forums of Centre County | Approach 1: Prepare students for work

The world of work is changing rapidly.

Technology is increasing the amount of information available to decision-makers and the speed at which that information is available in real time.

For health care organizations and professionals, the speed of change is only outstripped by the scale of change. The entire U.S. health care system is undergoing a transformation larger than the change brought about by the implementation of Medicare and Medicaid.

First, the Affordable Care Act has expanded the number of people who have health insurance coverage.

Second, the baby boom generation is aging into Medicare at the rate of 10,000 people a day.

Third, there are significant shortages in primary care physicians, nurses, dentists and other professional roles. This demand-supply imbalance increases the necessity for health care workers who are knowledgeable, adaptable and effective problem-solvers — all characteristics that require fluency in the unique language of health care.

Like any foreign language, this takes time and practice to master. That is one of the ways the Career and Technical Center at State College Area High School is preparing students to be successful in dynamic health care workplaces.

By working with students to help them learn the language of health care and then apply that knowledge through courses that teach them about health care research, the varied aspects of human health through anatomy and physiology, sports medicine and nutrition and how the health care system is organized through the health systems and professions course, the Health Professions program provides students with the foundation to succeed in health care careers.

The clinical observations course and Certified Nursing Assistant program provides students with early exposure to health care environments in hospitals, dental practices, physician offices, physical therapy practices and long-term care settings.

These experiences help students understand how different health-care workplaces function and helps them refine their career path options based on direct exposure. This type of experience is rare and valuable to students who are committing to health professions careers that can require 12 or more years of expensive training after high school.

Preparing students early through focused course work and practical experiences raises their profile in the competitive college and health professions selection process.

The CTC Health Professions program at State High prepares students to meet these challenges and gives them the confidence to take on rewarding and demanding careers in health care.