Rush to US schools - Carib immigrants flock to Florida career schools for jobs in health care
Published: Friday | January 30, 2009
Nurses' aides, medical assistants, surgical technicians - Caribbean immigrants are a fast-growing force in South Florida health care.
Technical schools are noticing.
In Lauderhill and Lauderdale Lakes, two Broward cities with a high concentration of Caribbean immigrants, technical schools offering specialities in health care are multiplying. Some schools say the community grew around them, but newer schools say they were drawn to the area by the concentration of potential students.
"We build our schools through referrals," said Bernadette Edwards, senior admissions representative at The American Institute School of Health Careers in Lauderdale Lakes. "We're not just selling a programme, we're selling a dream."
The school operates out of a few storefronts in a strip plaza, between a wig shop and a Save-A-Lot supermarket. There are at least three other career schools within a one-mile radius. More than 60 per cent of the 185 students are of Caribbean ancestry. The scene is similar a few blocks west at MedVance Institute, another health school, where more than 50 per cent of the students are from the Caribbean.
Rise in immigrant nurses
More than half the long-term health-care workers, who belong to the Service Employees International Union in Florida, are either Haitian or West Indian, the union reports. A report of some census data analysed by the American Association of Retired Persons showed that there were six times as many immigrant nurses working in long-term care in 2003 as there were in 1980.
Home-health aides, medical assistants and registered nurses are some of the health fields with the heaviest concentration of immigrants, according to a 2006 Migration Policy Institute Study that looked at job trends in the immigrant community. About 13 per cent of the immigrants who moved to Florida since 2000 are in health, according to the study.
"It has been an interesting demographic transformation," said Monica Russo, president of the Florida State Council of the Service Employees International Union, who said the shift has taken place over the last few decades. "The newer folks are from Haiti and Jamaica and all across the West Indies."
Coral Springs resident Evet Armstrong, 48, a native of Belize, said she had always wanted to pursue a career in nursing but she put it off to have a family and got sidetracked.
Her hope is that when she graduates from the School of Health Careers, she can get one good job, she said, rather than working at several low-paying jobs.
- Taken from Sun-Sentinel.com