New program will help veteran medics get civilian jobs

December 4, 2012 at 10:59 am

UNC-Chapel Hill and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina announced a new master’s program that will be specially designed to allow veteran military medics to receive certification to become civilian physician assistants. The program, in the UNC School of Medicine, will incorporate input from the US Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg and will build on the experience of medics on the field. It will also focus on providing primary care in parts of the state that are underserved. This is a great example of how the skills that are gained in military service can be built upon to then gain civilian jobs.

In October, we had blogged about the high unemployment rate among veterans. Younger veterans (age 20-24), black veterans, and female veterans face unemployment rates of almost 15 percent or higher. Many face significant challenges in getting jobs because, although they have skills, they do not have the certification needed secure a job. Creating a program like this provides a model for how veterans skills can be built upon to achieve civilian certification and employment.

In North Carolina, according tot he National Women’s Law Center, 5.8 percent of the population lived in medically underserved areas in 2010. These are areas where people have limited access to health care providers:

People living in a “medically underserved area” reside in an area with reduced access to primary care physicians. For some, access is reduced due to residence in a remote location, while for others it is due to the disproportionately low number of primary care physicians in a non-remote area. One in five Americans have inadequate or no access to a primary care physician.  The lack of accessible health care services is particularly acute for poor and low-income people, who do not have the financial resources to travel to find health care and may not be accepted by physicians due to low reimbursement rates in Medicaid (the health insurance program for low-income people).

The economic and social resiliency of a community is dependent on the health of its residents. The issues of workforce development and community health are interconnected. The new program at UNC for veterans not only expands economic opportunity to our returning military, but also will serve to expand access to health services to places that are currently lacking. It is an example of a cross-cutting strategy to both create jobs and improve the overall health of communities. Hopefully this  kind of collaboration can be replicated in other parts of the country and for veterans in other sectors.



Entry filed under: Economic Development, Economy, Jobs & Employment. Tags: , , , , .

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