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Career-Pathways in Community-based Care: The Time Is Now

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Today's guest post comes courtesy of our board member,  John-Anthony Meza.  John-Anthony Meza is the Human Resources Officer at CHAP, a published author and a  nationally-recognized speaker in human resources and corporate citizenship.  The Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP) is the nation's oldest, community-based accrediting body with more than 8,300 organizations accredited nationwide.

Today's community-based healthcare field has prominent leadership through accrediting bodies such as the Community Health Accreditation Program (CHAP), and organizations and associations focused on the quality of community-based care like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America.

In addition, community-based care provides multiple and varied career opportunities for lower-wage entry-level employees in positions such as hospice and home health aides, nutrition or food service workers. These professionals provide vital health and personal related support services to ensure people in need are stable, attending to medical needs, and spending time to confirm that patients are living in a healthy and comfortable environment.

However, with today's aging population, the health care industry's human capital thought leaders must take seriously the growing need to build career growth mechanisms to ensure they can meet future workforce demands and mitigate the health care sector's skills gap.

Help Wanted by Georgetown University's Center for Education and Workforce reported that by 2018, 63 percent of all U.S. job openings will require workers have some level of postsecondary education. To meet its future employment needs, health care employers, educational institutions, associations and organizations such as CHAP, must begin to bridge the skills gap in health care.

Some entry-level employees begin their careers in community-based care as hospice and home health aides or in other lower skilled positions, requiring only a high school degree.  For employees in these positions wanting to work at accredited organizations, such as those accredited by CHAP, workers must often become certified.  This more rigorous step often includes clinical hours, a training program and exam. However, the community-based care field must do more to create career advancement opportunities for workers in these positions by facilitating career pathways utilizing postsecondary education to allow them to pursue further credentials, degrees, or certifications in health care.

We are beginning to see best practices emerge in the field.  Some leading health organizations are developing career-paths for their own entry-level employees. The Health Careers Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati successfully created a career pathway - with multiple entrance and exit points - for incumbent, low-skilled, entry-level hospital workers to advance. Johns Hopkins Health System created the Skills Enhancement Program to enable entry-level employees in workforce readiness training and job skills designed to improve employability and career opportunities, not only at Johns Hopkins, but for the workers' lifetime.

At CHAP, our mission and purpose is to define and advance the highest quality of community-based care. Ensuring that we have the skilled workforce now - and in the future - will ensure all accredited organizations provide their patients with the best community-based health care their patients need and deserve.

What successful programs have you observed that help develop healthcare workers to meet the growing needs of an aging population?


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