On November 3, 2021

Consider a career in public health

Dear Editor,

As Health Careers Awareness Month in Vermont ends, it’s time to keep up the buzz around the importance of health careers in our state.

Vermont has among the highest shortages of medical professionals in the nation per capita, and the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already stressed and depleted health workforce. The need for physicians, nurses, allied health, and behavioral health professionals, especially in our rural and underserved communities, remains critical.

At Southern Vermont Area Health Education Center (AHEC), we know that a talented, qualified, engaged, and diverse workforce is at the heart of Vermont’s health care infrastructure, and we are committed to enhancing community efforts to grow and sustain our primary health workforce.

But we don’t do this work alone. Southern Vermont AHEC is one of two regional centers in Vermont that works collaboratively with the Office of Primary Care and AHEC program at the UVM Larner College of Medicine.

As a state-wide network, we’ve created a pipeline that connects middle and high school students to health careers exploration with our signature programs like MedTrek and MedQuest. Our C-SHIP program offers college students valuable work-based learning experiences in healthcare settings. Even established healthcare practitioners get involved by serving as preceptors for our college interns and housing hosts for medical student clinical rotations in our rural areas. They can also access our continuing medical education resources and take advantage of the Vermont educational loan repayment program, which is administered by the AHEC regional centers.

There are many different careers in healthcare — and multiple pathways to suit individual aspirations and assets. A recent publication by the J. Warren & Lois McClure Foundation, in partnership with the Vermont Dept. of Labor, listed health careers among the 60 most promising careers in Vermont — with jobs like dental hygienists, LPNs, RNs, and radiologic technologists averaging over $30/hour.

These are rewarding, high quality jobs with excellent pay — what’s not to love about that!

As if that’s not enough to entice young people to start a health career or adults to change mid-career, think about all the benefits of practicing healthcare in Vermont’s rural communities and underserved areas.

People in these areas are deeply affected by the healthcare worker shortage, where driving great distances for care can sometimes cost them their lives, so it feels pretty amazing to practice where your services are truly needed, where you can expand your skills with a variety of cases you might not otherwise experience, and where you are appreciated and well-regarded by your patients.

And while your services will be in demand, rural areas offer less traffic and reduced noise, more open and natural spaces, and a far greater sense of community — all contributing to a higher quality of life and lower stress level.

The need for healthcare workers in Vermont is great and AHEC has the resources that can help move your Healthcare Career forward. Visit our website at svtahec.org and like our Facebook Page @svahec. Thank you.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott, PsyD, ABPP is the executive director of the Southern Vermont Area Education Center. She was formerly the president of St. Joseph’s college.

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