On Friday morning, December 18, learn about how to teach others about jobs in healthcare. The session, organized by Quality Partners of Rhode Island, is designed “to provide information, resources” and tools that are geared to “folks with relatively low-skills or low literacy levels.”
by Reza Corinne Clifton
PROVIDENCE, RI – Whether it’s a health reform dialogue, a workforce development presentation, or a conversation about ways to engage youth, it’s hard not to hear about the nation and state’s impending labor shortages in medicine.
Also common knowledge is how specific the requirements, trainings, certifications, and degree-granting programs are if you want to enter the field. That is to say, you often can’t just slide into a position; with school, hands-on experience, and the steps required to advance, you have to put in time.
But what are all the different jobs available in healthcare? And if you are not a medical educator, employee at a healthcare site, nor an alumnus of a training program, can you really instruct or advise people on how to enter the industry?
Marguerite McLaughlin of Quality Partners of Rhode Island has no doubt in her mind: Yes. And she should know.
As Senior Program Administrator at the not-for-profit organization, McLaughlin has been part of the agency’s work “with healthcare providers, consumers, insurers, policymakers and other quality improvement,” and more specifically, “working with literacy centers, DLT staff and healthcare leaders to find out the respective needs of each as they relate to the healthcare workforce.” Lately, she has spent a lot of time analyzing longterm care (Certified Nursing Assistants, dietitians, and others who work in nursing homes and/or who provide more personal care), a sector of the healthcare that absorbs workers who turn to it both because the qualifications do not require as much education (the industry minimum is less than a high school degree) and/or because it is an entry-level access point into a growing industry known for providing workers with stepping stones for financial and skill-related promotions.
However, even if CNA programs and employers require less education on paper, the ability to demonstrate sufficient reading and writing skills is a must – and the difference between those who will work as Certified Nursing Assistants and those who may end up working in the field, but under other titles, with more restrictions on care-delivery, and for less money. And while this may speak to a benefit of the healthcare industry – a variety of positions for people with a variety of qualifications – McLaughlin is not necessarily satisfied with the idea of not addressing the barriers related to literacy.
That, in part, is what has driven some of her most recent initiatives, like a partnership with Saint Antoine’s Nursing home in Woonsocket, RI. Under that collaboration, Quality Partners worked with a set of participants identified as holding lower literacy skills in a recruitment drive for a CNA training class. “The goal is a literacy program that incorporates job readiness.”
Through a nine-week program that also emphasized preparing for the CNA training and other jobs in healthcare, and additional help in the form of pre-class study sessions for participants once they enrolled in St. Antoine’s regular class, all of the participants enrolled in the program passed the certification, says McLaughlin. She says that the experiential learning component to her program was very important to her students, especially those who were English Language Learners.
But that’s not the only lesson she can share. If you are running an adult literacy and/or job development program, McLaughlin wants you to know that there are opportunities in healthcare; there are universal and specific job skills being sought; and there is a way to prepare community members to enter the industry – even those with less than impressive levels of educational attainment. And she is inviting the community to learn more.
On Friday, December 18th from 8:30-11:30 am, Quality Partners is hosting a “Train-the Trainer session” on-site at their organization’s headquarters. The session, says McLaughlin, is designed “to provide information, resources and a copy of the tools and products we have created through the generous support of the Governor’s Workforce Board.”
An “informal breakfast reception” and a presentation by one of the trainers working with McLaughlin is also planned, while attendees will leave with books that have been used in the trainings and directions on “ways to access these tools.”
Urban Health Watch (www.UrbanHealthWatch.net) is part of the RI Prevention Block Grant, a program funded by the RI Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The blog’s editor, Reza Clifton, is familiar with Marguerite McLaughlin and her work after a partnership they formed when Clifton ran a workforce development at YWCA Northern Rhode Island in Woonsocket. To send your events, ideas, or personal stories about health, email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on UrbanHealthWatch.net.