Filling the Shortage of Health Care Workers

Care Foward Colorado Program


In August, Gov. Jared Polis announced the start of Care Forward Colorado. The program offers cost-free classes that can quickly earn students a degree in health care. Image by Accuray via Unsplash.

Are you looking to start a career in health care? There’s now a cost-free way to work towards degrees in health care in Colorado.

In a press release from Colorado Community College System (CCCS) News, on Aug. 24 at Arapahoe Community College (ACC), Gov. Jared Polis announced the start of the Care Forward Colorado program, which began in the fall. Care Forward Colorado covers tuition, fees, and materials for certain short term health care programs. The press release says that the program is one of many ways Polis is working to help Coloradans receive well-paying jobs in essential fields.

The health care courses included in Care Forward Colorado are certified nursing assistant, emergency medical technician, phlebotomy technician, pharmacy technician, medical assistant, and dental assistant.

The press release also states that programs and training are available at 19 community and technical colleges. This includes all 13 CCCS colleges, which means ACC is offering the courses.

Michele Brown, the dean of enrollment management at ACC says there are “approximately 200 [ACC] students currently enrolled in Care Forward eligible programs.” Brown expects that number to grow in future semesters as more people hear about the program and are encouraged to choose a career in health care.

“The certificate programs vary in length from six credits [Nurse Aid Cert.] to 32 credits [Paramedic Prep Cert.],” says Brown. All of the courses can be completed in quite a short amount of time; some of the programs take a year, while others can be completed in just one semester.

“These are workforce-ready programs,” says Kathryn Kenyon, ACC’s success coach. So, students should be ready to look for jobs immediately after completing their course.

Kenyon explains, “I think it’s a really exciting program because it will give students the opportunity to participate in health care professions […] Sometimes students aren’t sure what they want to do,” but with this program they can “confirm for themselves that they want to do it, and they don’t have to spend money.”

As explained in the press release, the program’s ultimate goal is to encourage Coloradans with a passion for working in health care to take on the critical jobs in that field. As the release says, “Helping Coloradans get the skills they need to lead careers they love has been one of the Polis Administration’s top priorities.”

Colorado has seen shortages in health care jobs. As Dr. Landon Pirius was quoted in the press release, “even before the pandemic, Colorado faced shortages in critical entry-level health care positions, and our colleges are committed to filling these gaps through affordable, accessible training.” Polis’s new program should allow anyone interested in going down a career path in health care to take on those jobs and help fill the critical positions in a low-cost and timely way.