Health care is a hot industry in West Michigan (See the hottest health care jobs in the 2018 Hot Jobs list!). There are more jobs than candidates, so employers are creating new ways to help people jump into a health care career quickly.

You can start a health care career by completing a short-term training program, pursuing a 4-year degree, or you can begin with an entry level position and work your way into the job you want.

That’s what Cal Haggard decided to do.

Cal completed a nursing program in high school which included hands-on experience at Porter Hills. During that time, he connected with the residents and Porter Hills’ culture. After high school, he joined their team as wait staff in the dining room with the goal of becoming a registered nurse.

He worked at Porter Hills Village, one of ten communities in West Michigan that offer a continuum of care to residents.

“You don’t just give them their food and walk away. This is their home. So you ask them about their day, how their meal was. You connect with them,” said Haggard.

Cal looks back on his three months as wait staff as a strong foundation for his journey to become a nurse.

Cal and Nancy Frans, Porter Hills Village resident

“Working as wait staff helped me learn to communicate with the residents and how best to help them,” said Haggard. “I’ve built a relationship with a lot of residents now. They were sad to see me leave the dining room, but I still see them around and have a chance to visit with them.”

Cal noticed one resident, Nancy Frans, didn’t come to the dining room for a couple of days. He learned she caught pneumonia and was recovering in her room. Cal brought her a get well card which is something rarely done by staff. When Nancy was well enough to eat in the dining room, she hugged Cal and said the card really cheered her up during her recovery.

The next step

Porter Hills works with their employees to help them reach their career goals. After three months, Cal was promoted to resident assistant in the dementia unit. He provides medication, assists during meals, helps them dress and accompanies them if they take a walk or go to an activity.

In the near future, he hopes to become a med tech before beginning CNA training (provided by Porter Hills) and eventually, training to become a registered nurse.

“Porter Hills wants everyone to progress. The managers worked together to make sure the transition went smoothly for me and the residents,” Haggard said.

Cal, resident assistant, and Nancy Frans

Work for Porter Hills

Porter Hills Village is one of Porter Hills’ nine communities in Kent County. Their services are comprehensive and inclusive, with a great variety of independent or assisted living arrangements, skilled care and special therapies.

With a strong reputation since 1970, Porter Hills touches the lives of more than 2,000 seniors every day. Through communities, innovative services and community collaborations, Porter Hills redefines quality of life for West Michigan seniors and their families. Their staff is deeply committed to excellent service and fulfilling their mission as “trusted experts serving seniors with grace.”

Open positions include:
Resident Assistant- FT or PT
Med Tech- PT- 1st and 2nd
Wait Staff- PT

See all their job openings here.