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Abstract

Across the United States new and expanding programs are affording young people the opportunity to make realistic career decisions while in high school. These programs add relevance to the students’ learning and are improving their academic test scores. In the health careers, the benefits of vocational Health Occupations Education include assets accrued to the community, the colleges, the health care professions, the students and the students’ parents. The student benefits can be appropriately relegated to three main categories: financial, academic, and character development. Financial benefits include income from good paying entry-level jobs, career experience and scholarship opportunities. Students also have the opportunity to discover if this is the correct career for them, before spending precious college time and countless dollars pursuing an education they will not use. Academic benefits stem from the integration of academic curriculum with a career based focus. This integration adds relevance to learning. Character development benefits are found in students being better prepared for the work place and more disciplined to solve difiicult problems. By teaching a curriculum relevant to real life, problem solving skills are developed and strengthened in the student. The health occupation students gain confidence in themselves and they enhance their self- esteem, through mastery of specific competencies and skills.

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