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Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area and several other organizations are starting a program geared toward expanding the number of healthcare workers available in the Highland Lakes.

The Rural Healthcare Initiative kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Central Texas College at the Frank Fickett Center, 806 Steve Hawkins Parkway in Marble Falls. The program is open to ages 18 years and older who are U.S. citizens or eligible to work in the United States. It targets the healthcare working needs in Blanco, Burnet, Llano, and Lampasas counties.

The kickoff event is open to anyone interested in pursing education opportunities in at least 11 career paths such as, but not limited to, pharmacy technician, medical assistant, nursing assistant, home health aide, and mental health counselor. The program is seeking young adults recently out of high school as well as individuals looking to change their job trajectory or wanting another career.

“It’s intended to help alleviate the direct-patient care shortage in those rural areas,” said Diane Tackett, chief operating officer of Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area.“There is a critical and urgent need to have skilled professionals in those positions.”

Healthcare firms can, and do, rely on contract workers who live outside of the community, but hiring residents ushers in a different level of care, Tackett said. 

It’s all about creating a local bond.

“Having local people in those direct-patient care positions, I think it improves the overall community access to healthcare,” Tackett said. “If you know that the nurse you are going to see lives in your community, your neighborhood, then you’re more likely to seek healthcare. Having healthcare professionals from your community, I think just makes you feel more comfortable in them and even a bit more trusting because they are from your neighborhood.”

The benefits of hiring local skilled professionals extends to healthcare providers. 

“They’ll be able to invest in people who live in the community they serve and will more likely stay in that area,” Tackett added.

As the Highland Lakes area continues to grow, the demand for skilled and trained healthcare professionals will grow along with it. The initiative brings together several organizations and agencies to help offer training and education for a number of healthcare careers and professions. 

Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area is working with local school districts and colleges to let students know about the healthcare initiative. Scholarships are available for qualified individuals.

Anyone interested in the Rural Healthcare Initiative can attend the open house or contact WSRCA