Johnson County Community College is trumpeting an award-winning itch. More precisely, an ITCH — its Introduction To Careers in Health program.
The National Council for Continuing Education & Training last month gave ITCH, a program that introduces teenagers to health care careers, one of the organization’s 2013 Exemplary Program Awards.
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The JCCC program for high school students provides a four-day occupational exploration during the summer that includes hands-on activity in the college’s Healthcare Simulation Center.
Participants, who come from area high schools, are able to work with patient simulators, computerized mannequins that give blood pressure, pulse and respiration readings. They also meet with professionals in the medical field to ask questions and learn more details about their jobs.
ITCH grew out of an effort four years ago to attract more young men to nursing careers. Two years ago, the program was amended to focus on young women, too.
The program, which this past summer cost $199 for participants, is part of the JCCC Career Pathways program and facilitated by the school’s nursing education department. The emergency medical services department also arranges for Life Flight helicopters to fly in as part of an exposure to emergency medicine careers.
College officials said the program was created with an eye toward the 3.2 million new jobs in health care predicted by 2018, according to U.S. Department of Labor projections. Also, 10 of the 20 fastest-growing jobs are expected to be in the field.
Phil Wegman, program director for continuing education at JCCC, said the four-day program has clearly raised interest in medical careers.
“At the beginning of the class, we asked for a show of hand of those interested in becoming nurses or paramedics, and only a handful raised their hands,” Wegman said. “At the end, with the same question, 19 out of 22 participants raised their hands.”
Students interested in the program for next summer may ask their high school counselors for information or check the JCCC 2014 summer youth catalog for enrollment information.