MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE) - Currently, health care jobs make up about 8% of the workforce in South Carolina. According to Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, in fewer than ten years that number is expected to grow 30%.
At Horry-Georgetown Technical College, dental hygiene majors get hands on experience. The school just opened a new facility that allows students to use up to date technology and work on patients. Student Nakia Keith says she's right at home here.
"Everybody should do what they themselves are willing and passionate to do and I'm passionate about dental, anything dealing with dental," she says. "You learn it in the classroom but it's also applying it in the clinical setting because that's when it all comes together."
The need for more people like Keith in the state is growing exponentially. A recent study shows by 2020 there will be nearly 80,000 job openings in the health care field in South Carolina. Among all 50 states, SC ranks 11th in the health care jobs growth rate. A high obesity rate is a contributing factor. Registered nurses in particular are needed.
HGTC's Dean of Health Services Dr. Phil Render says the Bureau of Labor Statistics just released numbers about the field.
"By 2020 we'll need over one million RN's in the United States and the reason is really quite simple. You have 77 million baby boomers coming around the pike number 1 and number 2 the mean age presently for RN's is 45. So we have an aging patient population and an aging provider population and that equates to very good job opportunities for our students," he explains.
"I've always worked nothing but hourly jobs, retail and it was finally just I wanted, something that I knew that I didn't have to worry about day to day whether jobs or hours or anything like that," says student SuAnne Singletary.
Singletary always wanted to go into health care but it took her 10 years to go back to school. HGTC students have a high success rate once they graduate.
"Getting a job out after receiving some educational training is very important because that's what our ultimate goal is in the end but at the same time it was doing something I know I was going to love," says Keith.
Render agrees, "The main reason for one entering the health care field is that the nature of compassion wanting to take care of somebody. Wanting to make the lives better of those they serve. That's the mission of the healthcare worker."