The Shadow People

More than 2,000 students in Southern Nevada will be spending a day at the office in February

Kenneth Bowman worries about the future of the health-care industry. As the CEO of HealthSouth of Henderson, a rehabilitation hospital, he predicts another nursing shortage is on the horizon nationally. He also worries about filling other positions, from occupational therapists to physicians, because the training for such jobs entails five to 12 years of schooling. If those positions are going to be filled down the line, says Bowman, more kids in Southern Nevada need to start getting interested today.

With the help of Job Shadow Day and Project 5000 Kids, that’s just what Bowman will be focusing on Feb. 2. That’s when HealthSouth of Henderson, and more than 50 other businesses and government offices across the Valley, will open their doors to 2,500 high school students from Clark and Nye counties.

Seven area high school students will shadow 15 professionals at HealthSouth of Henderson, including nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, plant operators and dietitians.

“The individuals who work within a hospital like this, most of them are college graduates, licensed clinicians,” Bowman says. “As we look into the future, we see that we’re going to need more nurses, more doctors, more therapists, and we need to get more people interested in these types of careers.” At the same time, Bowman hopes that he can help improve Nevada’s position as the top state in the nation when it comes to high school dropouts.

“Once you hear about what the dropout rate is in Las Vegas, you absolutely want to touch these folks in a way that keeps them energized, keeps them motivated,” he says.

Project 5000 Kids strives to improve the graduation rate by connecting 5,000 students to meaningful work experiences year-round. It’s paid for using Federal Workforce Investment Act and private funds. Project 5000 Kids, working with the school districts in Clark and Nye counties, aims to coordinate the largest job-shadow event the Silver State has ever seen.

Bridget Bilbray-Phillips, director with the School-Community Partnership Program at Clark County School District, says this Job Shadow Day is a great opportunity for students to get an insider view of a variety of jobs. She hopes the day will make the students aware of what skills they need for particular jobs and help them evaluate their career interests.

Participating businesses include the Clark County Coroner’s Office, The Smith Center, Universal Health Services, Vegas PBS, HSBC Bank, Station Casinos, Harrah’s, MGM Resorts International, Venetian and several local cities.

“I think our biggest challenge is sometimes students don’t always see how education does connect to future employment,” Bilbray-Phillips says. “Sometimes it’s somebody out in the community, somebody out in the business world that shows them the connection, and that’s the final piece that really sends the message to our students.”

Bowman says campaigns such as Job Shadow Day calm some of his worries about the future. “HealthSouth gets to be a contributor in setting the stage for tomorrow,” he says. “As my staff moves on I need that next group of individuals to come into this industry and keep forging ahead. HeathSouth has a vested interest that [our community] continues to educate and make strong, qualified health-care providers.”

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