Sacramento State health care graduates earn among highest salaries in nation

Folsom Hall provides practical learning experiences for students to learn skills needed to succeed in health care related fields.

Folsom Hall provides practical learning experiences for students to learn skills needed to succeed in health care related fields.

Ilian Cervantes-Branum

Sacramento State health care graduates are making some of the nation’s highest salaries, according to a recent PayScale survey.

Sac State ranked eighth nationwide for healthcare professionals in the 2013-2014 PayScale College Salary Report.

“It really starts with the students that we are bringing here,” said Fred Baldini, dean of the College of Health and Human Services. “They are dedicated, hardworking and they are focused on providing health care services. That really takes a special kind of person.”

A two-way tie for eighth place with the University of Rhode Island, Sac State’s starting pay for health professional majors who graduate and enter the workforce was reported as $59,700 and mid-career pay at $99,300.

The combination of dedicated students, cutting-edge equipment and dedicated faculty are the main reasons for the PayScale survey results in high-paying salaries for Sac State alumni, Baldini said.

“Our faculty and staff do an outstanding job planning and preparing the program,” Baldini said. “We have excellent facilities and we have state-of-the-art equipment.”

Folsom Hall features with programs and equipment that allow students to learn and apply the knowledge and techniques on other students, faculty, staff and the community.

One program that is housed in Folsom Hall is STEPS, which offers free therapy to children in the community with developmental disabilities.

The Physical Therapy Research Laboratory has a neurology clinic, which accepts community participants with varying conditions, including spinal cord injuries, stroke and multiple sclerosis. The conditions coincide with subjects that students are studying and the lab is also used for research projects, lectures and instruction.

In the Orthopedic Teaching Laboratory, physical therapy students are mentored by faculty and professional physical therapists from the Sacramento region to learn treatment techniques they can provide to the community.

Kinesiology junior Teandre Cooksie said he had not heard about the survey but was motivated by the news.

“It’s something that keeps me here,” Cooksie said. “I am glad I am here and it definitely motivates me to earn my degree at Sac State.”

After attending two other colleges, Cooksie said he prefers Sac State because the expectations are higher and students have access to facilities where they can practice learned skills.

“The professors challenge us to be very hands-on,” Cooksie said. “It helps us know what to expect with the job right after we get done. There is a lot of preparation that goes into it.”

Baldini said the passing rate for the national exam in nursing and physical therapy is near 100 percent every year and many of the health care professionals in the Sacramento region graduated from the university.

“I think that location does play a role in the fact that there might be higher salaries in the region because the Capitol is here and a lot of state jobs are located in Sacramento,” said Shayla Walker, Career Center experiential learning coordinator.

The Career Center also plays a role in preparing students in the transition after college by providing resources not limited to resume help, but mock interviews and job search strategies that help students find full-time careers or internships.

“The main thing that I hear from students that I work with is, ‘I can’t find a job when I graduate,”’ Walker said. “In order to make yourself more competitive to receive a job after graduation, it is important to secure experiential learning that you do outside the classroom.”

Walker coordinates the Sutter Volunteer Program, which allows students to gain internship credits if the volunteer position aligns with their major.

Students commit 100 volunteer hours during the spring at Sutter Hospital in different departments including pediatrics, health administration and rehabilitation.

The Career Center helps students apply for the position during the fall and prepares students with orientation materials for the position during the spring.

“That gives them hands-on experience working in a department that they would potentially like to go into,” Walker said.

UC Davis Cancer Center has recently partnered with the Career Center, which advertises volunteer options on its website.

Local hospice homes and the Sacramento Children’s Home are other healthcare organizations the Career Center works with.

“We really are preparing alumni for this century and for current practices in their field,” Baldini said.