Setting a course toward a healthcare career

November 27, 2023

Setting a course toward a healthcare career

Necessity is the mother of invention. So, with the need for healthcare workers across Martha’s Vineyard growing, leaders at several of the Island’s healthcare institutions united to create a program to attract potential employees.

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH), Island Health Care (IHC), and ACE MV teamed up with Cape Cod Community College’s Center for Corporate and Professional Education to offer a free five-week course called the Health Professions Seminar.

The course came to a successful and inspirational conclusion on Thursday, Nov. 16, as participants learned about entry level positions that are available with little or no healthcare background – jobs that could eventually lead to training and growth opportunities and, ultimately, a rewarding career in healthcare.

Participants heard from frontline workers at MVH, IHC, Health Imperatives, Vineyard Medical, along with the Town of Tisbury health agent, an Island paramedic, and workers at Hospice and Palliative Care of Martha’s Vineyard.

“One of the great things about working at this hospital is that we do have opportunities for advancement,” said Renee Clancy, RN, Executive Director of Nursing at MVH. “There is always room for growth in this organization and it’s something this organization values.”

Ryn Gluckman, RN, Nurse Director in the Emergency Department at MVH, shared her journey with the course participants, noting that she initially dropped out of high school, went back to school and left her first career before finding her calling as a nurse. “The past 15 years I consider to be a total love affair with nursing. I’ve just fallen more and more in love with being a nurse and working with nurses and the impact that nurses have.”

Anne Smith, a Physical Therapist at MVH, was a single mom working retail when she decided to get training as a physical therapist. “PTs are well loved. It’s a great career path,” she said. She noted there are entry level positions in the hospital’s rehabilitation department scheduling patients, which provides a good insight into working in physical therapy. “It’s a fun, close-knit department with high job satisfaction.”

Steve Hoover, Materials Manager in Perioperative Services, said the OR is a phenomenal department to work in with every day presenting something new. He described his own healthcare career trajectory, which started by scheduling appointments, moved into a medical assistant role, and then led to his promotion to materials manager. “There is that course of progression that is encouraged so you can grow in the organization. It’s an amazing place to come to work for.”

Krystal Rose, ambulance director for the Town of Tisbury, started as a nurse and went on to become an EMT and paramedic before she was promoted into her leadership role with the town. She explained to the course participants that with the shortage of first responders on the Island, most towns are willing to pay for training. “The benefits are great, and the opportunities are great.”

Rali Ivanova, who works as a medical assistant in the OB/GYN office at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, started her career path at the hospital first as a dietary aide and then on the switchboard. Earlier in the day on Thursday, she learned she had been accepted into an accelerated nursing program offered through the MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP). That news was greeted by a round of applause, hugs of congratulations, and a few tears of joy. “I truly enjoyed every single position I’ve had at the hospital. I’ve had amazing managers and have an amazing manager now,” she said.

Kathleen Samways, DPT, PT, Chief Public Health Officer at Island Health Care, spoke about her own career path in the healthcare, from a physical therapist into her current role. “There’s a whole other world of jobs that are in healthcare that aren’t hospital based that are available to you.” She spoke about the peer recovery coach positions and other positions in primary care, ambulatory services, and the soon-to-open dental clinic offered by IHC. “We are a community that is interested and hungry to bring new people into our work. So don’t think there is a single avenue or single path.”

Tay Goncalves, a medical assistant at Island Health Care, urged the participants to take a chance and not to fear being trained on the job. “Go for it, you’ll find a community willing to help you.”

Maura Valley, the retiring health agent for the Town of Tisbury, said her job entails inspections and informing the public about health issues. While it’s different from the other jobs in the healthcare field, it’s equally rewarding and the opportunities for advancement exist. She started out as a secretary and rose through the ranks.

Chantale Patterson, clinical director at Hospice of MV, spoke about her rise from working at a dining room in a nursing home to becoming a nurse and now working with patients at the end of their lives. Her co-worker, Jill Delahunt, a social worker, shared her career path into hospice that was inspired by the loss of a loved one.

Participants talked about some of the barriers to getting interviews, the pros of the course, and offered some suggestions for future sessions.

“I was elated to see this course take place because I wanted to get some guidance for myself,” said Aretha, one of the course participants. “I’m hoping now that I have contacts here, I can ask deeper questions.”

The healthcare employees involved in the sessions vowed to be resources for participants exploring interview opportunities.

“This is about opportunities,” Dave Caron, Vice President of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Services, said of the program. He noted it can often be daunting looking at a job description online and figuring out if it’s something worth exploring. “Building relationships and having people in the room who you can now call or email to ask questions is half the battle.”

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