Healthcare Job Outlook

Meridian, Miss. Efforts are being made to help locals find jobs within the health-care industry. Meridian Community College sponsored an Allied Health and Nursing Job Fair Thursday. In all, 18 vendors from colleges, healthcare centers and hospitals from throughout Mississippi participated.

The health-care industry is the largest employer in Meridian. Job fair organizers say that the employment outlook for locals in health-care is extremely good.

According to post graduation research, the vast majority of Meridian Community College students who graduate from health-care disciplines find jobs within those areas.

"Many programs are at 100%, you know occasionally, at least at a 90% placement rate. So, our students are finding jobs,"says Job Fair organizer, Rebecca Higganbotham.

"We are very lucky that we have had a 100% employment rate for the last couple of years, and we've had a 100% board pass rate," says Jenny Bryan, who is a physical therapy instructor at MCC. "So, they're passing boards, and they're getting jobs!"

"We hire about 600 people a year, and most of them are from this area," says Rush Health Systems Recruiter, Andi Ortlepp.

MCC's division of nursing is the school's largest health-care draw. It averages 400 students at all times. The average age for these students is 28. However, recently one person graduated who was 60. According to officials, the really good news is that most of these graduates find jobs.

"Our placement rate, which is what we look at 6 months after graduation, is running consistently over 90%, sometimes as high as 98% or 99%. So, our students are still getting jobs," says MCC Dean of Nursing, Betty Davis.

However, there are some projections within the health-care industry that by the year 2020 there will be a shortage of registered nurses. In response, Davis says whether or not this will happen is uncertain. She says there are also more questions than answers about what effect the new Affordable Health-care Act, which many call Obamacare, will have on the industry.

"It is projected that it is going to lead to the need for more nurses, but of course, the buck drives everything and we're all just holding our breathe and waiting to see what happens four or five years from now."

As the largest employer in Meridian, the local health-care industry makes up more than 18% of the workforce, and supplies more than six thousand jobs.