COLUMBIA — A Boone Hospital Center job recruitment event attracted 181 people Tuesday at the Hampton Inn and Suites Columbia. Everyone waiting to be interviewed had one common goal: employment.
The hospital plans to employ 20 people as patient care associates, said Michelle Zvanut, Boone County Hospital vice president of human resources.
“People just keep walking in the door,” Zvanut said. “We had about 60 people apply online the first day. People recognize health care as a stable place to be. It’s a great way to get in the door if you’re looking for a long-term career.”
In May, Columbia had an unemployment rate of 5.7 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's lower than the May national rate of 9.4 percent.
Waiting in line was 23-year-old Tiffany Clay, who hopes to attend nursing school next year.
“It’s been hard finding a job,” Clay said. “I’ve been looking since September of last year.”
Clay said she has applied for 15 jobs, both inside and out of the medical field. She said employers have told her they’re looking for someone better qualified or with more experience.
Clay said she was not surprised by the number of people applying for the job but said she expected more young people to be interested in the position.
“I didn’t think there would be so many different ages here,” Clay said.
Kathy Olson, 53, said she was surprised to see so many people at the event.
“I’m applying other places, but this is what I really want to do,” Olson said. “I didn’t think there would be a line.”
Olson said she had previously worked in food services and was looking for something different. After caring for her sick mother, she said, she was ready to re-enter the work force.
“I've been out of a job for about a year and a half," Olson said. "There’s not that many jobs out there. If you go out and look, you can get something in fast food, but not if you want something substantial.”
Others, such as John Medina, 46, hoped for a new start as well. Medina, who sells auto parts, said he has been getting less work lately through the company he works for and that he expects to be laid off in the near future.
“Hopefully, this job will give me a future, maybe a new career. A stable work environment is very hard to come by,” Medina said.
Medina worked with Tom Massey, 51, at Dana Corporation, an auto parts provider, before work started to slow. Massey was also in line on Tuesday.
“The auto industry is not doing well,” Massey said. “The medical field seems to be the only growing sector of the economy right now. Even education is falling flat.”
Massey said he has applied for some jobs online after working for the Dana Corporation for 10 years.
“The competition is much more intense, it’s pretty stiff,” Massey said.
Medina said the economy has made a difference in looking for a job. In addition to experiencing layoffs, he said, his house has lost value. Still, Medina said, he considers himself fortunate.
“I’m really lucky,” he said. “The last two weeks (at Dana Corporation), they gave us a first-responder course.”
Medina said this kind of training would hopefully help him gain new employment.
Those who are hired by the hospital are to be considered full-time employees with benefits. A patient care associate works under the direction of a registered nurse and does not need a medical degree.
Cherelle King, 20, said the number of people waiting in line did not surprise her. She said she knows a lot of people are looking for jobs.
“It’s hard. It’s harder to get hired,” King said.