Two years ago, the State of Jobs Conference, hosted by the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and aimed at high school sophomores, did not recognize the senior services industry as a known career track. This year, for the second time, Plymouth Harbor participated in the day-long conference by sponsoring the Healthcare track, staffing an exhibit booth filled with employment and volunteering opportunities, and representing the field of nursing to students interested in healthcare as a career.

On October 10th, more than 850 students from Sarasota and Manatee counties attended the State of Jobs Conference, now hosted by CareerSource Suncoast. Held at Robarts Arena, students arrived at the arena at 8:00 a.m. and were free to visit exhibits for colleges and sponsors (yes, Plymouth Harbor had a booth!). The keynote address was by Blair Bloomston, vice president of Game On Nation, a respected consulting group that works with high-profile corporations, teams, and other organizations to build leadership, teambuilding, and communication. Following the keynote, students were ushered to their respective tracks, where three sessions were held for each track, led by experts in the field, such as business/entrepreneurship, arts and culture, manufacturing/engineering, information technology, healthcare, and hospitality/tourism. Lunch was provided by Jason’s Deli, and career track sessions were followed by two final panel presentations addressing College Preparation and Career Preparation. Students returned to school at 2:00 p.m.

The healthcare track is the conference’s largest track, with more than 250 students in attendance. During Plymouth Harbor’s session, Stephanie Leathers, April Gillespie, and Danny Bushman, all nurses at Plymouth Harbor, led an interactive scenario. In this scenario, a gentleman (played by a student in the audience) fell and experienced a head wound and brain trauma. Each of the three nurses represented a different level of care for the gentleman, and an aspiring nurse in the audience helped to dress the patient’s wound. The students learned how residents move through our system, receiving the appropriate and compassionate care they deserve as their needs change.

This year, for the first time, the evening offered a Parent’s Night, where 140 parents were invited to have dinner and listen to presentations from each of the six careers tracks. Healthcare was again represented by Plymouth Harbor, with Senior Vice President of Philanthropy Becky Pazkowski discussing the variety of careers available in the healthcare field.

As we continue to be challenged by workforce issues — such as the shortage of workers in our community — it is important that Plymouth Harbor stands out as an employer of choice. We will continue to keep our industry at the forefront, and you can bet that this inspiring and respected field of services for older adults is now recognized as a viable career track, and, indeed, Plymouth Harbor is leading the pack!