11:21 PM EST, February 8, 2011
It's the fastest growing industry in Virginia and as the baby boomer generation gets older, jobs are going to skyrocket.
They help give peace of mind and allow patients to remain as independent as possible; home health aides are certified nursing assistants-- not quite registered nurses, but the care they provide is just as important.
At New River Community College in Dublin, class is in session. Students have just started an eleven week program to become certified nursing assitants, projected to be the fastest growing occupation in the New River Valley.
"CNA positions are kind of in abundance," says recent graduate, Kelly Dillon. "I think it's one of those gold nuggets that is out in the area."
"Our skills are more patient based as in we do the basic stuff that they can't do," says Megan Lineberry, another recent graduate. She now works at a rehabilitation center.
Starting wages are less than twenty thousand dollars a year, but job placement is virtually guaranteed, according to local companies.
"We get referrals from Social Services," says Heath Ford, manager of Interim Healthcare in Christiansburg. "We get anywhere from two to five referrals a week and there have been instances where we've had to send some of those back is we don't have the staff to do it."
He says he needs all the CNAs he can get, especially as the baby boomer generation, estimated at more than 35 million people nationwide, approaches retirement.
"They're going to be needing assistance, and so the field is going to keep growing and keep growing," he says.
Christie Palmer is one of an estimated 2700 in the home health industry in the New River Valley, that number is expected to grow 50 percent by 2018.
"Most of the time, based on insurance and everything else, you know people are only allowed to stay so long in a nursing home, allowed to stay so long in an emergency room," Palmer says.
From preparing food, to laundry, to helping with therapy, home health aides assist with anything a patient may need so they can keep their independence.
"I come in here and if she's having a down day I make her happy and she in return makes me happy," she says.
Home Health Aides and Nursing Aides are the top two growing industries in New River Valley. Rounding out the top 5 are Customer Service Representatives, Licensed Nurse Practitioners and Registered Nurses.
Health care occupations will continue to be in demand for years to come; CNA positions are expected to grow by more than 100 openings each year.
For more information on becoming a Certified Nursing Assistant, click here.
For more information on other growing industries in the NRV, click here.
For information on job prospects in your hometown, click here.
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