Orange County

UCF hospitality school offers students new paths in health care industry

ORLANDO, Fla. — In Central Florida, we’ve seen the tourism industry get crushed by the pandemic.

Now, UCF has a new degree that is helping hospitality students shift their talents to the growing health care industry.

This is the first degree of its kind in Florida.

Watch: Florida doctor was member of national committee on COVID-19 vaccination plans

The students are taking courses in health care, geriatrics and hospitality management to prepare them for some well-paid managerial style jobs in a booming industry.

It’s typically a time for tourism and travel, but the hospitality industry has been hit hard this year.

Dr. Abraham Pizam of UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management said, “It’s been disastrous, I have to admit.”

The pandemic has put hotels, theme parks and resorts in a tight spot, forcing companies to let go of valued employees.

Watch: Health officials warn holiday COVID spike could further strain hospitals

And although his field is flipped upside down right now and decimated, Pizam introduced a new track within UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.

He said, “The industry has been really negatively impacted, but from a point of view of this particular degree, it’s the opposite.”

Pizam said, “This is the first degree that is a blend of hospitality and health care.”

Watch: ‘I’m tired all the time’: Some patients dealing with effects from COVID-19 months later

He also said there’s a promising job market awaiting these graduates due to the increasing demand for senior living communities.

The Orlando Business Journal reports there is at least $500 million worth of senior housing projects currently in the works in our region and some of these places are pretty posh.

There’s also a 43-acre planned senior living community affiliated with UCF that is under construction right now.

See the full report in the video above.