Healthcare leaders said the pandemic is highlighting a long-time nationwide shortage in healthcare workers. They fear it could get worse in certain fields.
Tabitha Owen is one of many people hoping to change that. After years in other jobs, Owen is now a few months away from earning her LPN certification.
She eventually plans to become a full-time registered nurse.
"You're never too old to start,” said Owen. “You're never too late."
Owen is one of hundreds of students at Tulsa Tech training for careers in the medical field. It's a field that instructor Dana Chandler said is in need of more help, especially RNs and LPNs.
"It's something that we in nursing have struggled with for quite some time,” said Chandler. “I think with the pandemic it’s more pronounced and more recognized. Now we notice it more than before."
Chandler said Tulsa Tech recruits in high schools, introducing some kids to the medical field as early as 11th grade.
"I think we can start at an early age really promoting that career choice,” said Chandler. “Sometimes it seems like its limited just for females, but I think getting the males involved and really diversity within the field, really promoting that is really important."
Chandler said those who go through Tulsa Tech’s program often find work quickly. Others get more training or eventually become an RN.
Owen hopes, whatever she ends up doing, she finds rewarding.
"I've been very blessed,” said Owen. “Glad to have chosen a program like this."