LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - When you think about the economic growth in Southwest Louisiana, your first thought might be about the industrial expansion and the jobs it has created. While those jobs are a big part of the boom, healthcare jobs are also in high demand.
That is what led the Southwest Louisiana Economic Development Alliance to launch a new workforce initiative called "HealthWORx," with the goal of filling hundreds of local jobs with qualified employees.
Lisa Guerrero is the task force committee chair and explains it is a collaborative effort between Lake Area Medical Center, Lake Charles Memorial Hospital, Beauregard Memorial Hospital, DeQuincy Memorial Hospital, and Jennings American Legion Hospitals.
"Across the country, there's about 16 million patient care and non-patient care health-related jobs available to folks," said Guerrero.
Louisiana healthcare employment makes up nearly 10 percent of jobs in the state and Southwest Louisiana certainly reflects that.
"We want to try and really grow the interest, grow the awareness in the wide variety of healthcare jobs available not only locally, but across the U.S.," said Guerrero.
Megan Clemons worked in education for 10 years, but felt she was missing her true calling.
"I enjoyed it, but it just didn't feel right," she said. "Healthcare was tugging at my heartstrings and that's when I decided to go to SOWELA and just ask about the nursing program."
SOWELA, McNeese State University, DeltaTech, and Unitech Training Academy are all partners with this initiative to help open career doors for people like Clemons, who is working today as a nursing assistant and extern at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital as she finishes up the registered nurse program.
"I love the direct patient care," said Clemons. "I love interacting with the patients. You can walk in with a smile and you can immediately see their whole demeanor changes. They're here, they're sick, but you can make that little bit of difference in their life."
That is the best part of healthcare jobs for those working directly with patients.
Guerrero says that fulfillment, along with a great benefits package can set you up for a life-long career.
"It's a great salary and wonderful benefits," she said.
Just this week there are about 200 jobs posted between the five area hospitals. They include both patient care and non-patient care roles.
"Every week you'll see new jobs posted on the website," said Guerrero. "You'll see salary ranges, you'll also see different links to some of the educational institutions that can provide those career paths."
Paths to a qualified workforce, meeting the demands of healthcare in our region.
You can connect with the HealthWORx initiative here. Job openings can be found here.
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