The healthcare industry needs more and more professionals to serve the burgeoning Hispanic community and a California program is encouraging young Latinos to prepare for careers in the sector.

Starting in the fall the Health and Science Pipeline Initiative, or HASPI, will be available in Los Angeles and other areas.

"This is a very interesting opportunity for young Hispanics because of the demographic changes that our community is suffering," Kevin Barnett, co-director of the California Health Workforce Alliance and a senior investigator at the Public Health Institute, told Efe.

The California Hospital Association says the median age of the state's healthcare workforce is in the range of 37 to 50, which points up the need to seek younger workers.

The Hispanic community has an important opportunity in this development that seeks to train more than 1 million new professionals in careers such as radiation tech, pharmacist and respiratory therapist for 2030, Barnett emphasized.

"HASPI promotes subjects with an essential scientific content like biology, chemistry, psychology and microbiology combining them with issues linked to health and medicine," Linda Zorn, director for the Health Workforce Initiative, a project of the California Community College Chancellor's Office, told Efe.

Zorn said that this is how students "find the connection between the curriculum and concepts related to careers in the health area."

"Also, we've found that stimulating performance in math and sciences is the key for preparing students in careers in the medical field," Zorn added.

The model combines specifically related subjects, internship programs to develop specific skills and additional activities whereby students can explore assorted professions.

According to the CHA's Allied Health Workforce Survey, in 14 healthcare-related occupations, the more than a million professionals who will be needed in the sector within the next 20 years must come from the emerging labor force currently receiving instruction in the state's middle and high schools.

"Therefore, it's so important to appropriately channel the education of these young people so that they choose subjects and training that make them competitive in the face of the great future demand," Barnett said.

The results of the state tests of students who graduated from the HASPI program that ended in June 2010 show that these students improved their abilities in sciences, increased their information about careers in the areas of health and strengthened their links with and preparation for university opportunities.

"The good news is that the program is already available in California, to be applied in courses this fall, in the schools that request it in Los Angeles, Orange County and Northern California," said Natalie Ray, HASPI statewide implementation coordinator.

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