More adults are heading back to school in search of a new career, many times after a job loss.
Job retraining is in demand and many find it's a convenient solution that can provide the key to a whole new way of life.
"I spent 28 ½ years with the Wisconsin State Patrol as a state trooper," says Tom Derse.
He retired from law enforcement last year. But instead of a relaxing retirement, he moved from squad car to hospital scrubs.
"I just chose this one [career field] because to me it was like being on the front line again being in the OR [operating room].
Derse is a student retraining to become a surgical technician. He takes a class at MATC and then does clinical work at St. Marys Hospital.
One of Derse's clinical instructors, Carla Yaekel, says, "They set up the surgical field, sterile field, handle the instruments and when the procedure takes place the surgical tech is in there passing the instruments."
She says the only way to learn is to take part.
"Students feel very good when they come out and they were able to do their first hernia or their first gull bladder and they didn't need a lot of help," says Yaekel, "It's a very positive experience."
Derse adds, "This puts it together for us. We can actually see what we were taught in that first semester when we had our labs and procedure classes to where now we're actually doing it; it all makes sense now."
But his reward isn't his success, it's the success of the patient.
"I wanted something that had some meaning to it, something I could take anywhere in the country. In the health care field you can certainly do that."
Although there are anticipated shortages, right now many health care careers have waiting lists.
At MATC, nursing, dental hygiene, radiography and surgical techs all have wait periods of 2-4 years prior to enrollment.
But there is good news for laid off Lands' End employees. The Workforce Development Board now has a start-up federal grant approved for those displaced workers that will provide immediate entry into programs.
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