Outlook 'Strong' for Practical Nursing, Other Health Occupations

Published 02.28.1998


Hiring and job-placement rates for licensed practical nurses in Pennsylvania will remain strong, according to the 1997-98 Career Guide published by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. This promising employment forecast which also applies to other skilled medical occupations such as X-ray, lab and surgical technicians; registered nurses, medical office assistants, etc., holds true in the Northern Tier, as well, with increasing demand for quality care, access and cost containment. The growing elderly population accentuates these industry trends.

The Career Guide reports that practical nursing opportunities will increase more than 20 percent statewide between now and 2005, with nearly 1,500 job openings expected per year. Average starting salaries across the state are estimated at $21,500. Licensed practical nurses provide direct care to patients in hospitals, clinics, medical offices, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and in-home settings.

The employment outlook also is strong for nontechnical health-care positions, such as home health care workers and certified nurse assistants. Some industry analysts predict demand for these workers may reach critical proportions over the next 10 years. Although training also is required for these positions, the technical certification requirements are not as rigorous as those in the skilled health areas. While many openings for these entry-level health workers currently are part time, candidates with the desired personal qualities, skill and motivation are likely to move quickly to a full-time position with benefits. A certificate of advanced study, such as that available at Pennsylvania College of Technology's North Campus, is required in order to sit for the State Board of Nursing Practical Nursing licensing exam. Penn College faculty and staff are working with area health-care administrators and elderly service agencies to review training needs for nursing assistants and health aides. The North Campus has one of the region's most highly-regarded and well-established programs in practical nursing. The North Campus program, which began in 1983, has prepared more than 200 health-care professionals in the past 16 years, with student pass rates on the State Board Licensing Exams a source of great pride to the students, the faculty, and to the region. Most of these health-care professionals continue to live and work in the Northern Tier. More than 80 percent of recent North Campus nursing graduates are employed, and several are continuing their education in nursing.

The Penn College North Campus is accepting applications for its Fall 1998 practical nursing class. This 18-month program awards college credit that can be applied to more advanced study as desired. Students enrolled in practical nursing at Penn College enjoy state-of-the-art facilities, personal attention from highly qualified faculty, excellent local clinical experiences and a strong class spirit.

Space is limited and admission is selective, with the candidate's high school record and related experience considered in the review. Students may enroll and take related courses during the summer semester. For information about the practical nursing program and other health-related careers, or to receive a copy of the Career Guide, call the North Campus at (570) 724-7703.