U.S. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., encouraged people to enter the health care field Monday during a Health Care Career Expo at Hagerstown Community College.
“Health care is a growing industry,” Cardin said. “We need trained people in health care fields.”
More than 30 vendors were on hand — about 10 representing educators and more than 20 looking for prospective employees. Many of the vendors represented local institutions.
“We look at Western Maryland as an area where we can develop the types of programs that will help our entire state,” Cardin said. “In the new health care bill, there’s going to be a need for people in primary care.”
Colby Harke, 24, of Middletown, Md., was at the expo looking at colleges. Harke said he will attend HCC in the fall and hopes to transfer into a cardiology program.
“The expo will help me get an idea of what I need to do,” he said. “I’ve learned so far that my resume needs lots of work.”
Heather Lewis of Smithsburg, an 18-year old senior at Washington County Technical High School, attended the event with classmates and was exploring college options as well as employment opportunities while in college.
“That way we can still go to school and pay off some of our student loans,” she said. “I started off wanting to be a veterinary technician, then I changed it to wanting to be a certified nursing assistant, and now I have actually changed again to want to be in special education.”
Nursing Program Director Judy Breitenbach of Towson University at USMH said she was using the expo to meet potential students.
“I hope that the people here walk away with a lot of information and that they will act on that information,” she said.
According to Cardin’s website, more than 290,000 Maryland residents are employed in the health care industry, and the Governor’s Workforce Investment Board estimates that by 2018 more than 55,000 new jobs in the field in Maryland will be needed.
Hagerstown resident Henrietta Darpoh, 25, is a licensed practical nurse looking for a job. She said she used the expo to try to build connections.
“There are a lot of jobs out there,” she said. “(The expo) helps people get jobs and gives them a chance to speak with employers one on one.”
Mark Lannon, executive director of The Mental Health Center of Western Maryland Inc., said he was hoping to recruit possible employees.
“We’ve received several good resumes and are already looking at some people we want to interview,” he said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to encourage people to get involved in the health field.”
HCC adjunct faculty member Linda Smith, 64, of Hagerstown, works as an independent pharmacy consultant. She said she was at the expo to build connections for her students and to expand her work as a pharmacy consultant.
“Health care is one of the few fields that’s still growing,” she said. “I know I am helping people get training for work that is going to be available for them. In this economy, that’s a major thing.”