Engaging Students

Nurturing the Next Generation of Long-term Care Professionals

Fostering the next generations of caring, dedicated and committed long-term caregivers begins by partnering with educators and sharing the opportunities for rewarding careers in the long-term care sector. PHCA has identified or developed a number of tools and templates to assist its members in promoting career awareness and experiential programs with students and educators.

School-to-Career Activities

School to career activities are focused on engaging students in career pathways available in long-term care and encompass school-based learning, work-based learning, and connecting activities. These activities can be viewed as a continuum of career development opportunities for students.

Career Development Continuum

The Career Development Continuum is a sequenced set of activities and experiences that address career and college awareness, exploration, and preparation. This is accomplished through school-based learning, work-based learning and connecting activities over time. Experiences are compatible with age and stage of development.

The following matrix represents some activities or initiative PHCA members may engage in which may be supported by PHCA staff and through connections with workforce development partners.

Career AwarenessGuest Speakers
Educator in the Workplace
Guest Speakers

Educator in the Workplace

Job Fairs
Guest Speakers

Educator in the Workplace

Job Fairs
Career ExplorationWorkplace Tours and Field TripsWorkplace Tours and Field Trips

Job Shadowing

Community Projects
Workplace Tours and Field Trips

Job Shadowing
Career PreparationCooperative Education

Cooperative Education





Work-based Learning and Requirements for Employees under Age 18

Engaging students and showing them career opportunities and pathways available in long-term care is vitally important to fostering the next generation of caring, dedicated and committed long-term caregivers and ensuring the sector has an adequate workforce to provide quality care today and in the next several decades. Partnering with educators and sharing the opportunities for rewarding careers in the long-term care sector is an important component of a workforce development strategy.

Long-term care providers can begin career awareness and recruitment as early as elementary school. Serving as guest speakers and hosting educator in the workplace events promote career awareness and providing the opportunity for workplace tours and field trips allows for career exploration. At the secondary education level, career awareness can be promoted by participating in job fairs and for career exploration, offering job shadow opportunities. Cooperative education and pre-apprenticeship opportunities provide career preparation activities for students. Internships and mentoring offer additional career preparation support for students.

In considering students and employees under age 18, a number of questions arise around regulatory restriction, clearances and a number of other issues. In its guidance on who needs clearances, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services states that:

If the program, activity or service is an internship, externship, work-study, co-op or similar program, only an adult applying for or holding a paid position with an employer that participates in the internship, externship, work-study, co-op or similar program with a school and whom the employer and the school identify as the child’s supervisor and the person responsible for the child’s welfare while the child participates in the program with the employer must obtain clearances.

This information and additional guidance can be found at http://www.keepkidssafe.pa.gov/cs/groups/webcontent/documents/document/C_135246.pdf

Nursing facilities often have questions about the limitations on activities for employees under the age of 18, lift operation is a specific issue of concern. Guidance for lift operation by 16 and 17-year-olds can be found in the U.S. Department of Labor Field Assistance Bulletin 2011-3 which specifies six conditions which must be met for 16 and 17-year-olds to assist in the operation of a lift. This bulletin is referenced in the Pennsylvania Department of Education guidance on mechanical lifts.

Those documents can be found at: https://www.dol.gov/whd/FieldBulletins/fab2011_3.htm


Further, the Department of Health (DoH) confirmed it does not have any updated guidance regarding individuals under 18 assisting in the operation of a lift and if all of the criteria are followed, including manufacturers specifications, it should not be an area DoH would cite.

In terms of supervision and clearances, the DoH also confirmed it does not have any additional guidance or regulation on these matters and facilities are expected to follow child labor and other labor laws and regulations as well as individual facility policies.

In addition to the references provided in this article, PHCA has a number of other tips and examples in its workforce resource area of the website to support its members in conducting school-to-career activities. They can be accessed at https://www.phca.org/for-members/workforce-resources/engaging-students.

ACHCA Mentoring

Research shows that effective onboarding and mentoring enables new hires, specifically newly hired caregivers, to be more competent and confident in their skills before being fully deployed on their own which contributes to greater job satisfaction, quality of care and employee retention. But often newly hired facility administrators suddenly find themselves without a support network and feel alone and isolated.

Mentoring is the pairing of more experienced with less experienced people in order to facilitate the sharing of information, experience and advice. A mentor is a close, trusted and experienced guide. The American College of Health Care Administrators has a mentor program where it pairs its experienced fellows as mentors with new administrators.

You can find more information about this program in this slide presentation the ACHCA shared with AHCA and its state affiliates like PHCA. Please view the brief video explaining the program here.

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