Back in October, I wrote about the need for a more proactive stance in finding the next generation of HTM professionals. I began to ask myself, where should one look for the next generation of HTM professionals.
Knowing the next generation must have a college degree I had to look at where future community college students will come from. Years ago, many of the students in the BMET program here at Caldwell Community College where career changers. Many, if not most, had federal and state funds available for retraining purposes because of plant shutdowns, etc. These students brought life experiences to the classroom and to the career field, but finding that first job was not near as easy as it is today. In today’s job market most of the career changers that came into the HTM field probably would have just gone to work somewhere else instead of going back to school. So, the logical place to start looking for the next HTM professionals are the local high schools. I’m beginning efforts to bring HTM information to more Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) students. After doing more research, I’m sure HOSA is where we can find many of the next leaders in HTM.
The HOSA website states: HOSA is an international student organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Health Science Education (HSE) Division of ACTE. HOSA’s two-fold mission is to promote career opportunities in the health care industry and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. HOSA’s goal is to encourage all health science instructors and students to join and be actively involved in the HSE-HOSA Partnership. (www.hosa.org/about)
To promote career opportunities in the health care industry … that sounded exactly like my mission and the website went on to state: to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. I can certainly get behind that and then I came upon their creed. It sets the tone for a quality health care professional. The HOSA creed is:
I recognize the universal need for quality, compassionate health care.
I understand the importance of academic excellence, skills training and leadership development in my career pathway.
I believe through service to my community and to the world, I will make the best use of my knowledge and talents.
I accept the responsibility of a health professional and seek to find my place on a team equally committed to the well-being of others.
Therefore, I will dedicate myself to promoting health and advancing health care as a student, a leader, an educator and a member of HOSA-Future Health Professionals.
Judging from their mission and creed it appears the HOSA organization is setting a great foundation for many to become a health care professional. However, my guess is that many HOSA members, students and teachers, know little about the HTM field and the endless opportunities. In my limited outreach so far, that has been the case. When you say biomedical to a HOSA member they seem to want to talk about forensics. So, I have to again explain the career field and they always seem fascinated. I am encouraged by the HOSA instructors’ sincere interest in the HTM career field and that they are receptive to getting more information and providing it to their students. One instructor I was speaking with was shocked at how many avenues you could find in this career field. Another initiative to help find the next generation of HTMers I hope to accomplish this year in North Carolina would be to have HTM shops across the state get involved with local HOSA chapters to provide more HTM exposure to HOSA students. Activities such as going to a HOSA class and discussing the career field with the students (and possibly doing a small demonstration, such as testing an ESU – they love the sparks) and explaining how and why HTM professionals do what they do would be a great recruiting tool. This type of exposure is a great way to ensure more young people enter into the career field. This exposure must be ongoing if it’s to be effective. Every time I have done something like this with high school students, I get a couple students interested in the program who had never heard of this career field.
I hope to see this initiative go one step further and find ongoing internship opportunities for any interested students in local HTM departments. This will provide a dual role, it will provide a solid foundation for students entering a college biomedical program and provide a steady stream of future HTM leaders.
I sincerely hope efforts such as this may alleviate some of the projected staffing shortages in the HTM field. As with any problem, we need not put all our eggs in one basket. As a community college professor, I know all too well that the numbers of high school students attending community colleges is going down. So, with that in mind, please don’t forget about that kid that shows the qualities we are seeking in an HTM professional.
I hope to report back with some progress on this endeavor soon.
John Noblitt, M.A.Ed., CBET, is an educator at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute.
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