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Statewide Marketing Campaign Aimed at Boosting Health Care Work Force

A $2.5 million statewide effort is under way to bring attention to health care’s less glamorous jobs with the hopes of attracting young people to allied health careers.

Launched in January, Sacramento-based MakeItInScrubs.com made its biggest push last month spending “just over a million dollars” of its total $2.5 million budget on advertisements and outreach materials, said Project Manager Misha Gutierrez.

According to Gutierrez, San Diego is among the 12 most needy counties in California in terms of health care workers. MakeItInScrubs.com focuses specifically on allied health care professions, such as medical secretaries and dental hygienists.

Other California counties with the highest levels of need include Fresno, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Lassen, Los Angeles, Madera, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Joaquin and Ventura.

Online and print advertisements ran statewide, while money was spent on radio and TV ads that ran only in Los Angeles because of its sheer population, in Fresno because of its more diverse population, and in Sacramento because that’s where the policy makers are concentrated, Gutierrez said.

The MakeItInScrubs.com campaign includes a comprehensive Web site geared toward young people and career fair participation.

On the site, would-be allied health professionals can take personality quizzes designed to tell them which type of job would be best for them. Once that job is suggested, visitors can read lengthy descriptions about what the job entails, what type of educational requirements it has, schools in their area that offer that sort of training, and advice on how to pay tuition.

They can also see an estimate of how much they will earn in that profession. The California Wellness Foundation, which funds the campaign, gave the $2.5 million grant to Ogilvy Public Relations last year to design the Web site.

Gutierrez works for New York-based Ogilvy from a Sacramento office.

In San Diego, groups that are supporting the campaign by passing out its materials include the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, as well as public hospital system Palomar Pomerado Health. Local insurers such as Blue Cross of California and Kaiser Permanente have also jumped on board.


On A Mission

One of the most involved local marketers of MakeItInScrubs.com is the Vista Community Clinic, which employs more than 400 people, many in the allied health profession.

Karla Segura-Perez works as project coordinator for the clinic’s Health Promotion Center, one of 30 programs offered there. Segura-Perez is currently four months into a related grant-funded effort pertaining to allied health professions. But her grant, funded by the California Endowment, involves a community needs assessment.

She said she is studying what barriers are keeping young people from pursuing jobs in the allied health profession, in particular Latino youth.

To date, preliminary research via personal interviews with students, teachers, parents and college counselors shows that there are three main barriers to filling such jobs. They are communication, time and money.

“The information is there, but it’s not getting across,” Segura-Perez said. “There’s a lack of communication on all levels.”


By The Numbers

Although specific breakdowns for San Diego County were unavailable, a statewide report by the University of California, San Francisco paints a picture of allied health professionals in California versus nationwide. Some are more grim than others:

– & #8201;There are 26 respiratory care practitioners per 100,000 people in the state compared to 29 nationwide.

– & #8201;There are 217 medical assistants per 100,000 people in the state compared to 233 nationwide.

– & #8201;There are 46 emergency medical technicians/paramedics per 100,000 people in the state compared to 63 nationwide.

– & #8201;There are 76 clinical laboratory workers per 100,000 people in the state compared to 102 nationwide.

According to another projection funded by the California Wellness Foundation that came out last year, there are more than 200 allied health professions, and of the top 30 fastest-growing jobs in the country, from 2000 to 2010, more than half are allied health jobs.

“As California’s population keeps growing older and older, it’s putting pressure on an already strained health care work force,” Gutierrez said. “We believe something has got to be done.”

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