TGR Foundation, Providence address gaps in community health career pipeline through inaugural Community Health Academy
ANAHEIM (Oct. 16, 2023) – Joined by Providence health care professionals, Southern California high school students gathered at the TGR Learning Lab in Anaheim, CA for an immersive experience to build skills while learning about health care career pathways.
The inaugural Community Health Career Academy, developed in partnership with TGR Foundation and Providence, guided students through three sessions with activities focused on the use of data in genetics, for melanoma in particular; using data to assess community needs such as high rates of drowning and head trauma; and ways to target audiences to address concerns and change behaviors.
Students also had an opportunity to ask questions and learn about specific roles of Providence professionals during a lunch panel.
“The Community Health Academy marks the beginning of our new Career-Connected Learning programs for teens,” said Cyndi Court, TGR Foundation CEO. “We are grateful for our partnership with Providence, whose professionals have contributed their time, resources and expertise to expose teens to viable health care careers through experiential learning opportunities. Together, we are empowering young people to find and pursue their passions.”
With more than 30 fully engaged students in attendance, there was no fidgeting, eyes wandering toward windows or discreet cell phone use. In collaboration with the Anaheim Union High School District and the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program, students interested in health care career pathways were invited to participate. The students represented 12 high schools across five school districts in Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Providence experts challenged students to complete real-life exercises in modern health care practices. Throughout the event, they prepared a script to discuss treatment options for a newly diagnosed melanoma patient, drafted a marketing plan to prevent drownings off the Orange County coast and developed a survey to address Orange County’s high rate of head trauma cases related to electronic bikes and scooters.
“A lot of medical career experiences without this type of supplement give students more of a hypothetical type of situation,” said NOCROP patient care pathway instructor Janice Garcia. “Here they’re actually playing the role; it lets them really get a first-hand experience. It lets them think more about the future and how it actually pertains to them personally. They see themselves actually making a difference in their own community and their life and their family.
Throughout the sessions students identified mental health, chronic illness and nutrition and fitness as key concerns in under-resourced communities in Southern California. Sophomores Jumana and Jonathan led discussions on reasons for health inequity.
“We have all the stuff for health care but when it comes to money, some people can’t really afford insurance, let alone pay for medical bills,” Jumana said.
Jonathan acknowledged the importance of assessing and addressing needs in some communities.
“It feels awkward,” he said. “It’s difficult to open up about subjects that aren’t always talked about.”
TGR Foundation and Providence hosted the day-long academy as part of an ongoing partnership to open pathways to health care careers to high school students, many with limited resources. The goal is to provide knowledge, hands-on experiences and mentorships to broaden choices for students once they graduate. A secondary goal is to help fill the pipeline of jobs in health care.
Providence, in its commitment to health equity, has a robust community health care worker program that trains employees in outreach to under-served communities. Inside the hospitals, community health workers support patients in need of housing, mental health services, addiction treatment and other social determinants of health.
“I think this is the best way to ensure we have the best and the brightest people in our health care system for the foreseeable future and also to give these kids a leg up on planning for their college careers,’’ said Providence anesthesiologist John Cross, M.D. “This is the perfect platform to do that and the chance to participate here is a gift to me.”
Industry academies are one component of TGR Foundation’s Career-Connected Learning Program. For more information, visit TGRFoundation.org/career.