LYNDON CENTER -- Students from across the Northeast Kingdom will have a chance to learn more about health career choices they can train for at an upcoming event to be hosted by Lyndon Institute, said Twila Perry, assistant head for special education and technical education at LI.

Lyndon Institute is partnering for an event called "Pathways to a Health Career" on Oct. 27 in the LI auditorium, said Perry, from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. This month, October, is Health Careers Awareness Month in the State of Vermont, and the special event for high school students is being offered in conjunction with the Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center.

According to a letter sent out to school staff and administrators to publicize the event, from Laura Remick, the health careers program manager for the Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center, "the presentation will frame for students the ideas of 'pathways' to careers and provide a broad-brushed summary of the reasons that health care is a desirable field that includes some of the fastest growing occupations in Vermont."

A panel discussion will be held as part of the program, during which health care professionals will share "their own pathways to their current field," with students, stated Remick in the letter. "Each panelist will give a description of their occupation, the route they traveled to get where they are, and advice from their experience to students interested in their field."

The program will include an overview, Remick said, of the great diversity of careers available in the health field, noting there are more than 300 possible occupations that fall under the health care umbrella. She said local colleges and health care sector businesses will also be attending the event, so students can talk to them after the program and learn more in a specially set up exhibition area during the two-hour event.

According to Remick, the event is targeted to eighth- and ninth-grade students, along with high school students who may be interested in health care.

Goals for the event, shared by Perry, include: increased awareness of the multiple pathways into different health care fields; exploration of the numerous health care careers available; and recognition for students of key steps to take in preparation of competitive college and career pathways.

Among the groups specifically invited to the health careers event at LI are all ninth graders, anatomy and physiology students at the school, as well as students enrolled in exercise science and the Licensed Nursing Assistant program. Also, students at St. Johnsbury Academy are invited, including human service class students, and all eighth graders from the region have also been included in the event, as well as any other students identified by LI staff as being possibly interested in health care careers.

Among the panelists will be a physical therapist, occupational therapist, dentist, pharmacist, someone who works in behavioral health, and someone to represent nursing, among possible others.

According to a news release sent by Vermont Health Education Center, the annual campaign to celebrate October as Health Careers Awareness Month began in 2009 when the Vermont General Assembly proclaimed the month as such. The annual campaign is sponsored by the Vermont Area Health Education Center network "to raise awareness of the many opportunities and benefits in pursuing a health career in Vermont."

"Demand for health care is rising as our population ages," the news release states. "And our health care practitioners are aging, too; many will retire in the next decade. Without enough young professionals to replace them, Vermont could face serious shortages in its health care workforce. A variety of health professionals are in high demand right now, including: primary care physicians, psychiatrists, nurses, mental health and substance abuse clinicians, pharmacists and direct care workers," the news release stated.

According to Kim O'Connor, health careers coordinator at the Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center, "Some students may never have thought about a career in health care until we talk with them," noting that there are countless "great reasons to consider health care as a career," among them: respect, careers are in demand everywhere; they are appreciated; competitive salaries; more than 300 possible career options; there is a need and 14 of the 20 fastest growing occupations in the state over the next 20 years will be in health care; there are exciting new developments in science and technology making the field of medicine dynamic and exciting; and more.

The Northeastern Vermont Area Health Education Center offers health career explorations programs to middle and high schools in Caledonia, Orleans, Essex, Orange, Lamoille and Washington counties. Teachers, counselors and others interested in a presentation at their school can contact Kim O'Connor at (802) 748-2506 or at healthcareers@nevahec.org. More information is also available online at vthealthcareers.org.

The agency was formed in 1997 as an independent non-profit organization to address the availability and distribution of health care services in the state, working in alliance with teh University of Vermont College of Medicine and other educational institutions. The Vermont AHEC is dedicated to promoting excellence in the health care systems in its six-county region by connecting students to careers, professionals to communities, and communities to better health, their news release states.

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