In the summer of 2011, Coachella Valley Economic Partnership’s (CVEP) Workforce Excellence Program, in collaboration with the Health Career Connection Program, hosted undergraduate health science college interns, Janel Samuels and Faith Villanueva. These two interns have worked directly with CVEP’s Health Industry Council (HIC) to create a leadership program that would allow students to voice their opinion and to actively participate in activities that directly affect their journey towards a promising career.
HIC was created in 2006 to alleviate the Valley’s health care workforce shortage by addressing educational and career obstacles. The council realized that the most effective way of improving a student’s educational experience was to involve them in those efforts.
Faith and Janel’s project was to create the framework of a program that would unite Coachella Valley students who are on the path towards health careers. This program would allow select students from the Valley’s health academies to serve on a student-led advisory group.
With guidance and input from CVEP Health Career Connection Preceptors Donna Sturgeon and Sheila Thornton, Janel and Faith were able to construct what is now referred to as the “Emerging Health Professionals Workgroup.” The key components include the students’ regular attendance at monthly HIC meetings, contribution of youth feedback, participation in workshops, organization of activities within academy programs, and leading conferences. This program provides students with the tools to build strong relationships with health care professionals and skills that will lead to advancement in their chosen health profession.
Faith and Janel, Program Coordinators, are on target to launch the Emerging Health Professionals Workgroup this September. The initial EHP cohort will be made up of a total of 18 students: one sophomore, junior, and senior from each of the six health academy programs. One of the objectives of this workgroup is to lead an annual unifying event for students pursuing a career in health care. For their first event, the Emerging Health Professionals is hosting a conference in January 2013 featuring local health professionals from targeted health care professions: dentistry, nutrition, physical therapy, pharmacy, nursing, and medicine. Work groups for each of these professions are also underway within the scope of CVEP’s Health Industry Council. The January 2013 conference will also include a local academy student competition to showcase academic achievements in each of these professional work groups.