DVR’s ‘Health Career Connections’ for Students with Disabilities by Jim Kreatschman

This past December, high school students from Petersburg, the MatSu valley, Shaktoolik and Kotzebue attended ‘Health Career Connections’ in Juneau. Health Career Connections is designed to give students who experience disabilities an opportunity to explore all facets of the healthcare industry to determine if a career in healthcare is in line with their personal interests, skills and abilities. This program is part of the Alaska State Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s (DOLWD) investment in supporting school age students through its Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) Transition Program.

Students learned health care skills at the Health Career Connections program in Juneau.

Students participated in tours and presentations from a wide array of medical professionals from Bartlett Regional Hospital, from trauma care professionals with Airlift Northwest and from the Capital City Fire and Rescue. Students also participated in hands on coursework dressing wounds and checking vital signs, as well as receiving their CPR certifications.

Healthcare is currently one of the ‘hottest’ career fields in Alaska with projected growth in most healthcare occupations at over twice Alaska’s overall job growth. These jobs are not necessarily doctor and nursing positions typically associated with healthcare.  The largest growth is expected in Health Care Support, 22% according to Alaska’s Economic Trends, and these jobs are available in urban and rural areas of the state.

Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau, Alaska

Health Career Connections assists each student in developing their own “Personal Plan” for pursuing their chosen career path. These plans can include high school preparatory classes, certificate programs like Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and advanced health degrees. Planning out these career paths can help prepare students for high-demand, good paying jobs in less than 6 months.

The DVR Pre-Employment Transition Program (Pre-ETS) funds Health Career Connections through the Southeast Alaska Area Health Education Center, a program of Southeast Regional Resource Center (SERRC). SERRC has partnerships with local healthcare providers which enables students the opportunity to explore a wide range of occupations.

Check out more DVR Pre-ETS services for students with disabilities at: