MILWAUKEE - A group of essential workers will soon feel a big hit, as health experts project a shortage of at least 1 million nurses in less than a decade. The coronavirus pandemic has opened eyes to the needs in the health field, and the transition to virtual learning is helping teens get a jumpstart on their careers.
COVID-19 reinforced just how critical our health care system is, but there's worry about the workforce amid a nursing shortage.
"The main thing is the baby boomers. They are all retiring right now, so right now, that is going to be a lot more job openings for a lot more people," Destinations Career Acadamy of Wisconsin's Dyan Hannam said.
Hannam says it's vital to build the health care industry back up. The World Health Organization says we must increase the number of nursing graduates by 8% annually.
"We offer pathways for students to go onto," she said.
WIDCA offers a certified nursing assistant pathway that enables students to get industry education as early as middle school.
"It gives them an idea already, starting off as a freshman," she said.
The program also involves shadowing at local hospitals, nursing homes and labs once students are 16.
"It gives the students a true awakening of seeing somebody on the job, seeing the type of duties and what they are going to have to perform," Hannam said.
Thankfully, the interest has grown.
"We had more enrollment this year just for that reason," she said. "Once students found out they could go into a pathway and learn about all different careers already, this is something that been a plus for our school."
It's also been a plus for those who transitioned their learning model during the pandemic, as this free online public school offers academics and stability.
"By us being a virtual school, yes, our teachers have had a lot more experience. We know how to engage the students a lot more," she said. "There are so many careers out there for you to explore."