This month, the Spotlight! is shining on the three SCWorks Career Centers in the Waccamaw Region of South Carolina, which are funded by the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, and operated and managed by KRA. This WIA (Workforce Investment Act) program for Adult/Dislocated Workers and In-School/Out-of-School Youth (ISY/OSY)* encompasses a tri-county area and provides comprehensive workforce services for Regional jobseeker-and employer-customers. For jobseekers, services include interest, aptitude, and personality assessment; development of Individual Employment Plans; skills upgrading through occupational training and OJTs; career coaching, counseling, and guidance; instructional job search technique workshops; job referral, placement and retention services; special supportive services, as needed; and referrals to community partnering agencies. Adhering to a sector-driven strategy that targets service businesses in high-growth industries, the SCWorks Career Centers provide recruitment, screening, referral, follow-up, and retention services tailored to the needs of private- and public-sector employers in the Waccamaw Region. One of those high-growth industries is Health Care, where the Regional economy mirrors that of the nation and the world.
According to Wikipedia, “The health care industry is one of the…largest and fastest-growing industries. Consuming over 10 percent of gross domestic product of most developed nations, health care can form an enormous part of a country’s economy.” One of the most obvious reasons for this industry projection is, due to tremendous advances in medical science and technology, we are living longer, and longer…well into our 80s, 90s, and even 100s. But, for many, the unwelcomed companion to increased longevity is increased disability and/or disease. So, in addition to the “normal” health care demands of the population, more and more of the elderly are in need of some form of health care…at-home or in assisted-living, dementia-care, hospital, nursing home, or rehabilitation facilities.
The Health Care industry depends on interdisciplinary teams of trained professionals and paraprofessionals, and is typically divided into three sectors: hospital activities; dental-, medical-, and optical-practice activities, and “other human health” activities. All three of these sectors are providing meaningful training and lucrative employment opportunities for KRA/SCWorks jobseeker-customers in the Waccamaw Region. Certified Nursing Assistants, Licensed Practical Nurses, Radiology Technicians, Registered Nurses, et al are in demand, as evidenced by the case files of KRA Career Agents Kathy Hammond, Toshia Jones, Gardenia McCray, Sherell Robinson, Unandi Ward, and Joseph Watson, and KRA Business Service Representative, Jeff Ward. Each of the 15 customers profiled below truly deserves his/her own Spotlight! Most have overcome incredible personal and professional challenges to achieve their goals. However, in the interest of brevity, their stories are illustrative and representative of dozens and dozens of others customers who have found success in the Health Care industry in the Waccamaw Region.
As a group, these customers range in age from 21 to 46; are single and married; and have between 0 and 4 children. All have high-school diplomas or GEDs, some obtained through the KRA/SCWorks program, and/or Associates Degrees (AD), some earned through the program. Through WIA-approved Individual Training Accounts, most attended Horry Georgetown Technical College and Professional Medical Training Center for their training. Employments all are fulltime or steady part-time positions, ranging in compensation from $8.30 to $21.50 an hour.
- Thyron Beach was dealing with several personal struggles when she enrolled in the program, including caring for a sick parent at home. However, she persevered and continued to meet with her Career Agent to update her resume. This was challenging, at first, because Thyron was confident her resume was just fine, and that it was acceptable to state that “one day [she] wants to get married and have children.” It took several sessions for her to understand that this was totally inappropriate and hurting her chances for hire. With a current, revised resume Thyron was hired by the Walmart Vision Center, and reports that “she really likes her job…there is room for advancement…and she plans to grow within the company.”
- Daniel Bradley had worked as a patient caregiver in Florida, but was not certified by South Carolina. Through the program, he received special transportation assistance, completed comprehensive Medical Technician Program (MTP) training at the top of his class, passed all State Board exams, and was licensed as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and in EKG, and Phlebotomy. In addition, Daniel achieved National Health Career Association Certification, and obtained a position at McLeod Hospital. “At the age of 45, I never thought I would go back to school,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the program. It changed my life for the better, just when I didn’t know what I was going to do.”
- Ciana Brown received training, special transportation assistance, and reimbursement of State Board fees. She was hired as a CNA at Prince George Healthcare.
- Lakeshia Bumgardner needed help completing occupational skills training in a Radiology Tech program, in which she was already enrolled. Through KRA/SCWorks/WIA, she completed her AS degree, and was hired by Grand Strand Regional Medical.
- Brooke Cagle received special transportation assistance while in training in a comprehensive MTP that included preparation for CNA, Advanced CNA, EKG Technician, and Phlebotomy certifications. Recently CNA-certified, her Instructor commented, “Brooke exhibited above average clinical skills and performances with her assignments. She worked well with others and will do well in the medical field she chooses.” Brooke is continuing her MTP training and is all but assured future employment.
- Elaine Cobb scored highest in Business Detail and Leading/Influencing on the Career Scope Assessment Test, indicating she was most interested in career fields of a clerical nature, but still connected to her own interest in helping people. She received transportation and childcare assistance while enrolled in a 2½ year program, from which she earned an AS degree in Applied Science-Human Services. Elaine was hired by the Georgetown Community Care Network as a Patient Care Navigator.
- Sadeequa Gamble received CNA training, special transportation assistance, and reimbursement for State Board fees. After certification, she was hired by Prince George Healthcare. Sadeequa stated that “she enjoys her job and thanks WIA for their help.”
- Stacy Geise was already in the Radiology Tech program, but needed WIA tuition assistance to complete her training. She finished her AS degree and passed her State Board exam. Although she submitted her resume to several hospitals in the area, Stacy really wanted to work at Grand Strand Hospital where she had interned. She was able to secure an on-call Radiologist position there.
- Robin Hassenplug was already enrolled in a Radiology Tech training program, but needed tuition assistance to continue. She was able to complete her AS degree, pass her State Board exam, and begin employment as an on-call Radiologist at Grand Strand Hospital.
- Renae Heavner entered the program with a goal of becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). She successfully completed training, passed her RN State Board Exam, and was hired as an RN in Waccamaw Hospital’s Rehabilitation Unit on an OJT contract. Follow-up reports indicate that she’s doing exceptionally well in training, with the OJT preceptor noting, “She’s a great asset to Waccamaw Hospital as evidenced by being competent in assessment, wound care, and routine-of-floor, and [she] interacts well with patients and has mastered the discharge process”. Heavner herself reported that, “She’s really enjoying her assignment at the hospital…and…would like to thank staff at KRA for assisting her with successfully achieving her employment goal, which has allowed her to obtain her RN licensure.”
- Misty McKnight had completed three semesters of college, had received a Cosmetology Certification, but wanted to switch careers. She received assistance for both transportation and uniform costs while in MTP training for CNA and CPR (already certified), Phlebotomy (has highest grades/test scores in her class), and EKG. Placed with Palmetto Primary Care as a Front Desk Medical Technician, she intends to pursue her long-range goal of becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse.
- La’Keisha Myers received special transportation assistance while in training, became CNA-certified, and is currently employed with McLeod Health.
- Jill Pereira received special assistance for childcare, “scrubs”, and transportation while in training for an AS degree as a Radiology Tech. She secured employment with MidAtlantic Vascular, Inc.
- Ashley Wisby was already enrolled in a Radiology Tech program leading to an AS degree when she entered the program, but needed tuition assistance to continue. She qualified, graduated, passed her State Boards, and interned at Waccamaw Hospital, where she was hired as an on-call Radiologist.
- Elise Woodberry entered the program with a BS in Nursing, but still needed assistance in obtaining meaningful employment. One-on-one sessions with her BSR to update her resume resulted in a “winner” that was submitted to several Health Care employers in the Region. Elise was hired as an RN at Prince George Healthcare.
*The ISY/OSY component, the Youth Employability and Success (YES) Program, of the KRA/SCWorks operation provides a comprehensive year-round program for disadvantaged young people facing significant barriers to employment. Workplace-readiness services include interest, math, and reading assessment; GED preparation; job application and interviewing skills; and intensive career counseling.