In response to the growing demand for jobs in the health care industry, New Jersey Health Care Industry Week kicked off its opening ceremony yesterday at the Rutgers Student Center.
New Jersey Health Care Talent Network, the University’s School of Management and Labor Relations, the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development among others hosted the event to draw in students and job seekers to learn about health care for this week-long event.
New Jersey’s health care sector added 171,100 new jobs from 1990 through 2011, and is projected to add nearly 62,000 jobs from 2010 through 2020, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The opening ceremony featured educational talks from esteemed professionals in the industry such as Noreen D’Angelo of the N.J. Department of Health, Denise V. Rodgers, president of the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey and Aaron Fichtner, the deputy commissioner of the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Padma Arvind, director of the New Jersey Health Care Talent Network, organized the Health Care Industry Week.
“We wanted to bring everybody in the health care industry like employers, the government, hospitals and especially students to come together to learn about the opportunities for education as well as jobs in healthcare,” she said.
The health care industry currently provides a greater opportunity for long-term careers compared to other industries, such as pharmaceuticals or information technology, Arvind said.
“There is going to be a 25 percent job growth rate in the health care industry and if you look within health care, there is a discipline called community health and community health centers are going to become really active once Obamacare is implemented,” she said.
The program emphasized the need for mental health professions to help prevent violence, especially gun violence.
“You don’t need to have an M.D. or a Ph.D. to start working [in the health care industry],” Arvind said. “Some are undergraduate or GED level. People can start at the entry level and work their way up. That is why I think this is a great industry to get into.”
After the information sessions, students and job seekers could network to vendors that provided employment and educational opportunities.
One vendor, Rebecca Rathmill, senior program coordinator for the Office of Continuing Professional Education on Cook campus, said her company offers public health training programs.
“People think of health care as hospitals and a lot of times that’s true, but another huge part of health care is public health,” she said.
Rathmill said many careers in the health care industry do not exist within hospitals. For example, public health nurses can work at clinics to administer vaccines to patients.
The Office of Continuing Education provides a 12-week course called “Environment and Public Health,” where students can train to become health inspectors.
Luisa Gutierraz, a School of Engineering senior, represented the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s station. She said professionals in the field could have careers that involve both engineering and medicine.
“For example, one of the tracks is biomechanics, which is related to prosthetics and another track deals with artificial hearts, pacemakers, catheters — you name it,” she said.
Saint Peter’s University Hospital also held a “Medical Village” that showcased new health care technology, said Kaitlin M. Patullo, an occupational therapist at the hospital.
“We have people from different parts of the hospital representing and explaining what they do and how to get toward that so anyone looking for another career or going into college can have an idea of what’s required to do what we do,” Patullo said.
Calvin Bryant attended the event because he is seeking a career in the health care industry. He expressed interest in learning what job positions were open as well as the training required for the positions.
“[Dr. Arvind] told us it’s the biggest industry in terms of job openings in the state of New Jersey. She said even if you didn’t have any related experience, there might be entry-level positions that you can apply for,” he said.
The N.J. Health Care Talent Network will move its Health Care Industry Week across the state so more New Jerseyans can participate.