WATCH program prepares students for healthcare careers

Providing support for individuals seeking a career in healthcare, Work Attributes Toward Careers in Health, WATCH, recently held an informative meeting at the James V. Brown Library to share how the program can help its participants.

The program came from a five-year Health Professional Opportunity Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is being administered in ten counties, including Lycoming, Clinton and Tioga by the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.

The program is designed to help individuals, who meet an income qualification, receive education that will allow them to be employed in either nursing or emergency medical services, explained Katherine A. Vastine, project manager for WATCH.

Participants may receive assistance in order to gain certification in a number of medical professions, including a paramedic and registered nurse.

“It’s to move them into high-demand career fields,” Vastine said.

Vastine explained that WATCH analyzed labor market information and spoke with employers to see how much demand there was for this type of professionals. With a high demand for these type of professionals, Vastine said it allows participants to be able to support themselves.

“These jobs also pay well, so it’s to move them off public assistance and into self-sufficient wages,” she said.

In order to be accepted into the program, participants must verify their income, take a basic education test and have their skills evaluated.

To help participants as they go through schooling, training and the process of finding employment, a career coordinator is assigned to each one going through the program.

Coordinators can help in a variety of way, including find and providing tutoring.

“They meet with their career coordinator each week,” Vastine explained.

The coordinator stays with a participant not only during their schooling, but through their first six months of employment.

“We can help them financially but we also have the social services,” Vastine said.

Visitors to the recent meeting at the Brown Library heard first-hand what they can expect when working in the health field.

Courtney Fritz, who has been a certified nursing assistant since 2008, spoke about her experiences. She said that besides being caring, those in the health field also must be responsible, accountable, dependable and honest.

Katie Kauffman, a licensed practical nurse, also said that, like every profession, there will be good and bad days. But she added that the good days outweigh the bad, as it’s a very rewarding career.