(CORPUS CHRISTI, TX) – Making healthcare careers an exciting and rewarding opportunity for students in the Greater Coastal Bend was the focus of the fifth annual “Future Health Care Professionals Conference,” Feb. 1 at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi campus.

Approximately 400 middle and high school students, faculty, sponsors and guests attended the conference, sponsored by the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center. The students represented the Future Nurses clubs, Health Care Careers clubs and Health Occupations Students of America.

The conference promotes healthcare careers through an educational experience and encourages students to enter advanced education programs in the Greater Coastal Bend to meet projected work force needs. Vendors had their materials on display, along with guided tours of the nursing resource laboratory by the nursing students and faculty of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Institute for Health Policy at The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston, addressed “Compassion in Health Care” as keynote speaker.

“The fiscal well-being of Texas depends on the physical well-being of Texans,” said Dr. Sanchez, former Commissioner of Health for the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The need for healthcare providers is significant. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2010, 5.3 million healthcare workers will be needed to provide services throughout the country.

“Health care is the fastest growing industry in the United States,” said Lois Koester, R.N., M.P.A., B.S.N., program coordinator for the Health Care Careers Program at HSC-CBHEC. “It is our desire to help the youth of today prepare for entering that work force.”

The Texas A&M Health Science Center provides the state with health education, outreach and research. Its six components located in communities throughout Texas are Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, the Institute of Biosciences and Technology, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy, and the School of Rural Public Health.

— Marketing & Communications