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Students in Senior Living Are a Lot More Diverse than You Might Think

September 29, 2020 | James Balda


Students in Senior Living Are a Lot More Diverse than You Might ThinkA hospitality undergrad finishing her MBA. A high school student with a CNA starting her career as an apprentice in senior living. A grad student giving up a career as a lawyer to follow his new passion.  

All three are students, all with radically different education and career progressions, presented at the Senior Living Executive Virtual Conference last week.

We often say that attracting more students to senior living is a key to our future. In fact, Argentum’s Senior Living Works program gives all kinds of tools and resources to reach out to schools, make presentations, and find degree programs in senior living. As our student presenters demonstrated, however, there is a vast array of students following an infinite number of education paths into our industry. 

The fact is that the traditional education path is more myth than reality. The number of people who graduate high school, enter college, and earn a two-year degree in two years or a four-year degree in four years is vanishingly small. Instead, ours is increasingly a world of lifelong learning. We’re much more likely to see a veteran using the GI Bill to enter a new field or a CNA pursuing an LPN credential at night.  

While these trends have been building for a while, in senior living many of us are playing catch-up to this reality. When it comes to finding executive directors, if it’s not poaching talent from other communities, we often are focused on young graduates of senior living or hospitality management programs.  

It can be challenging to bring someone with a solid management or business background (or, in the case of our conference presenter, a legal career) and find the appropriate niche for them in our community or corporate leadership. Yet that worldly experience can be exactly what we need to lead and innovate. 

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About James Balda

James Balda is a guest author for OnShift’s blog and the President and CEO of Argentum, the largest national association exclusively dedicated to senior living communities and the seniors and families they serve.

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