Interest Booming In Health Care Fields

Friday, January 30th 2009, 10:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Jennifer Loren, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Thousands of Oklahomans have recently found themselves without a job or fearful that they soon won't have one.  It appears many of those people are looking for second careers in one particular industry where they feel the opportunities are endless.

At OU-Tulsa, students in the Physician's Assistant Program feel confident they have bright futures ahead of them.

"There are always going to be people that need help," said Kelly Stafford, PA student.

Many students, like Kelly Stafford, are studying for their second careers.

"I was actually a hairstylist for 24 years in that career," said Kelly Stafford.

All the students say there's a certain comfort with going into health care, especially in the uncertain economic climate.

"I really believe and feel that I will always have a job in this economy when other people might not. I feel comfortable knowing that I will always have a job," said Sara Enyart, PA student.

OU administrators have the numbers to back up that comfort level.

"Our students are looking at at least 150 jobs when they graduate," said Cynthia Pentz with the PA program at OU-Tulsa.

And, according to applications for OU-Tulsa's PA program, others are taking notice.  They received more than 170 applications for the upcoming school year.  Only 24 will get in.

"I think that the majority of applicants, of course, know that the health profession is a very solid field. We're always going to need health care. Especially we need health care people in Oklahoma," said Cynthia Pentz with the PA program at OU-Tulsa.

Overall OU-Tulsa has seen a 41% increase in health-related program applicants over the last five years.  And, they're not the only ones.

OSU's School of Osteopathic Medicine has seen applications increase by more than 42% and that's just in the past year alone.

"I think the interest in medical profession in the health professions is phenomenal," said Cynthia Pentz with the PA program at OU-Tulsa.

The trend is not just true in Oklahoma.  Schools across the country are seeing record enrollment numbers.