Sunday, March 12, 2000

Health-care recruiters find pickings slim at jobs fair

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Recruiters from nearly two dozen hospitals and schools Saturday tried to mend a critical shortage of health-care workers with promises of bonuses, education grants, good hours, choice jobs and better pay.

        But the absence of crowds, stacks of brochures and empty seats during the 17th annual Health Careers Workshop and Job Fair at Drake Center helped to underscore the problem — and made efforts appear that much more difficult.

        “Right now we do have a shortage,” said Kerry Loeffler, vice president of the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, which represents 33 Tristate hospitals. “We have a shortage in nursing. We have a shortage in radiology. ... There are critical shortages across the health field.”

        This comes at a time when baby boomers are hitting middle age and as the elderly population of Greater Cincinnati is growing.

        Some of those few dozen who did attend the job fair said the uncrowded, informal atmosphere allowed them to get the personal attention they needed.

        “The presentations were great; they showed me the difference between having a career and a job,” said Cherise Gibbs, a Fairfield resident who was recently laid off from her sales and marketing job and is now looking at hospital administration. “I'm not from here and I don't know a lot about the market. By having a combination of health-care vendors and educators, I can see what I need to do.”

        That's what 16-year-old Asia Booker was seeking, as she sat at a table mapping out plans for her education and career as a dermatologist.

        “I have a future ahead of me,” said the junior from Scarlet Oaks Career Development Campus in Sharonville. “I wanted to start looking now.”

        Already enrolled in a “health-tech” program and having completed training as a certified nursing assistant, Asia said she has made up her mind to stay in Cincinnati. And after picking up information about several schools, she decisively tapped one college brochure.

        “It's UC all the way,” she said.

        That was welcome news to Loren Carter, University of Cincinnati Medical Center graduate program coordinator, who said hospitals are “standing in line” to hire the school's graduates.

        “There is a very, very big need,” he said, adding that schools are also offering incentives to attract students into health-related programs — particularly graduate programs.

        “There is a big need for higher-level applicants,” Mr. Carter said. “There are a lot of financial opportunities for qualified students. Not loans, but grants. We awarded $600,000 last year.”


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