By Sam Rosoff
BRIDGEPORT – Students looking for a leg up in the healthcare job market can ask for support from Jeanine Gibson, the newly appointed Health Care Academic Advisor at Housatonic Community College in collaboration with the Southwestern Connecticut CareerRx Academy.
Gibson, who received her bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle and master’s degree from Quinnipiac University, has many doctors and nurses in her family, so she originally started down the path to become an obstetrician. During an internship, she realized the clinical side of medicine wasn’t for her, but she did discover an interest in the administrative side of the field.
This interest led her to work in admissions at the American University of Antigua’s College of Medicine, and eventually help spearhead a new nursing program. “I didn’t pick the administrative part of medicine or health care, I just always knew I enjoyed it, so it just ended up working itself out,” Gibson said.
Her favorite part of the job in college admissions was when she worked directly with the students, so her ultimate goal has been to get into academic advising.
“I got tired of the constant recruitment, the constant numbers, and the constant pressure. I wanted more time with the students,” Gibson said. Housatonic was specifically looking for a health care advisor, so it’s a job that perfectly matched her background.
As a health care advisor, when students are looking into healthcare certification or credit programs, Gibson points them in the right direction and provides support. She described her role as a “nexus,” acting as a link between the Academy and Housatonic’s students.
The Academy is a program created by The WorkPlace, which is a workforce development board based in southwestern Connecticut. The Academy helps to provide free healthcare training and support for area residents who meet family income limits or are unemployed. “As far as job growth is concerned, healthcare is the big field,” Gibson said. “It’s growing and there are a lot of opportunities there, so what the Academy is trying to do is to get people out there to work.”
Gibson may have only just started at Housatonic, but right away, she recognized something potentially different from other schools. She said Housatonic will help students “step by step,” and give them the assistance they need in order to graduate and be ready to work, and she’s doing everything she can to provide this support. “I’ll be like the one-stop-shop for them in regards to resources and getting them where they need to be,” Gibson said. “We’re always there.”
In addition to the health care programs currently available, Gibson is looking into a number of ways to improve and expand the opportunities offered. She’s interested in establishing more relationships with the nearby community, which could provide students with a smoother transition from a certification program into an internship or job placement, and give them more sites from which to choose. “Depending on how well a student performs, that’s an easier way to get into the market and earn a job,” Gibson said.
Some new programs are also on the horizon, such as phlebotomy, medical assistant and healthcare programs for ESL students. In regards to what programs are selected, Gibson is keeping her finger on the pulse of what students want. “We really want to create programs that students are asking for and are interested in, and programs for which we have the resources, so there are quite a few,” Gibson said.
The Health Care Academic Advisor position “really and truly” is everything Gibson hoped for when she applied for the job. “I enjoy the scope of my position and what I do, especially when it involves working with students,” Gibson said. “This is the job for me.”
Sam Rosoff is a journalism intern at Housatonic Community College.