At Idaho State University, several Idahoans are able to prepare for new medical careers, fill high-demand jobs and stay in Idaho with the support of the Idaho Department of Labor.
The backbone of the endeavor is a federally funded program, designed to assist eligible individuals find and qualify for meaningful employment. This in turn helps employers find skilled workers they need for success.
The program is especially important to people who have lost jobs due to layoffs or business closures, or have been unemployed for a lengthy amount of time and have exhausted their unemployment benefits. It also helps adults who need assistance to find work that allows them to be self-sufficient.
For Tracy Calvert of Nampa, the program was ideal. He found himself without a job after being laid off from a 14-year career. When he heard about the program through the Department of Labor, he worked with consultant Maribel Guzman and discovered he qualified for one of the nursing program at ISU’s Meridian campus.
“This provided financial support that I wouldn’t have had without putting my family and our financial health at risk,” Calvert said. He is in the accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing program.
“It is definitely demanding,” Calvert said of the three-semester, intensive curriculum, which combines online, interactive telecommunication and face-to-face learning.
“It is a great collaboration between ISU and the Department of Labor,” Guzman said. So far, nine eligible candidates have finished either nursing or physician’s assistant degrees at ISU with the assistance and at least four are in programs currently.
“These are high-demand occupations and 99 percent of the students stay in Idaho,” Guzman said. In addition, wages are competitive. In the Boise metro area, registered nurses earn from $50,000 as an entry wage to a median $62,000. Physician assistants can earn a starting wage of more than $80,000 with a median of $98,000, according to the Idaho Department of Labor occupational and employment wage survey.
Matthew Ries of Boise is about halfway through ISU’s two-year physician’s assistant program and says he wouldn’t be able to attend without the assistance from the Department of Labor program.
“I spend between 60-80 hours a week between coursework and working at clinics throughout the (Treasure) valley,” Reis said. Holding down a job is
next to impossible.
“This program has been extremely helpful,” Ries added.
To qualify for the Department of Labor assistance, applicants must meet stringent eligibility criteria. A case manager works through the application and qualifying process with individuals.
Guzman said the program may extend to other relationships between the Department of Labor and other Idaho universities and colleges, similar to ISU’s, linking individuals who qualify to career support for high-demand occupations that Idaho needs now and in the future.
— Jean Cullen, Idaho Department of Labor