Students, recruiters seek perfect match for jobs in health care industry Recession has hurt market slightly HOWARD COUNTY HEALTH

November 16, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

As a physical therapist, Kristina Rankin says she will never be out of a job.

"Every country in the world is looking for a PT," said the Howard Community College student. "Someone is always hurting their back and legs."

Yesterday, Ms. Rankin was among several hundred students looking for jobs, fellowships, and internships at Howard Community College's Allied Health Job Fair.

The two-hour event attracted representatives from 29 health care organizations, including Johns Hopkins Hospital, the county health department, and Lorien Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

Many recruiters were looking for registered nurses, skilled professionals who are required to have two to four years of schooling and must pass a state examination before being licensed.

"We have openings," said Vicki Lappen, nursing supervisor for the Howard County Health Department.

Students who want to be nurses can look forward to a variety of career opportunities, said Terry Bennett, career specialist for Johns Hopkins Hospital, who attended the fair.

They will work in doctors' offices, outpatient facilities, and in the home health care field, she said.

"There's always going to be growth for health care, but it's tight right now because of the recession," Ms. Bennett said.

The lagging economy has prevented many graduates from entering the nursing field, she said, because experienced nurses are not switching jobs as often, and those who work part-time are extending their hours to compensate for spouses who may be out of work.

But she sees a brighter future ahead for nurses once the recession ends.

"As soon as we see the recession slow down, we'll see positions open up again," Ms. Bennett said.

But some students can't wait that long.

Nursing student Margie Shanduk, who has two children, said she hopes to land a job in psychiatry or pediatrics after graduating in May.

"I'm going to get out there and work," said the Highland resident.

Carol Carrier, who wants to be a psychiatric nurse, said she hopes that President Clinton's health care reform package will increase the demand for nurses.

"They're going to want to have more nurses because they're cheaper [than doctors]," Ms. Carrier said.

Salaries for registered nurses vary, depending on whether they work at a public agency or in the private sector. At the county health department, for example, registered nurses start at $25,937 a year. After six years, a staff nurse can earn a yearly salary of $34,075. In the private sector, registered nurses can earn $10,000 to $15,000 more a year.

At Lorien Nursing & Rehabilitation Center in Columbia, registered nurses with two years' experience start at $18 to $22 an hour, or $37,440 to $45,760 a year.

But whether employers or job-seekers have the upper hand remains to be seen.

Tim Kuhn, account manager for U.S. HomeCare in Columbia, said competition for nurses and aides is so great among home health care agencies that his organization begins looking for potential employees before they even graduate.

"We can't afford to sit back and wait for them to come to us," Mr. Kuhn said.

At the job fair, he had potential employees write down their graduation dates and what job they're looking for.

Representatives from U.S. HomeCare keep in touch with applicants throughout their college careers. Once students graduate and gain a year of experience in their chosen fields, they're hired by U.S. HomeCare.

"We try to catch them early," Mr. Kuhn said.

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