Students thrive with mentors and a clear economic path to a career. This summer, numerous local health care industry partners are stepping up to provide both mentorship and paid internships (JOBS) for twenty local undergraduate health science majors.

Health Career Connection (HCC) was founded in 1990 by a group of health care executives who were deeply committed to empowering young people to pursue health-oriented careers while also increasing diversity in the health care industry. They themselves had the “life changing experience” of having their education and careers launched by participation in a summer internship program that was then called the Fellowship Retention Program in Health Administration. The funding for this original program ran out in the late 1980’s. HCC was their way of providing others with similar opportunities.

In 1990, HCC’s founders started a small Northern California summer internship program based on the Fellowship Retention Program Model and operated it on a volunteer basis until 2000. Each year the program would have a profound impact on the interns and the host organizations. Year to year the interest in the program from undergraduates and organizations alike increased, as did the number of interns who went on to graduate school and who were often employed by host organizations.

In 2000 one of the HCC founders, Jeff Oxendine, was working as a health executive at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He saw significant need to support undergraduate students interested in pursuing health careers, particularly among minority students. He launched a Boston internship program and HCC was launched as the platform for a national program. Based on the success of the Boston program for both students and participating organizations, HCC launched its Central California Valley Program in 2008 and its Coachella Valley regional CVEP Partnership Program in 2010.

In all HCC areas, undergraduate college students from the local region and others who want to work in that area are provided opportunities to gain invaluable exposure, experience and mentoring, within health care organizations and the local community.

In 2010, California announced the need for 10,000 additional Health IT workers statewide in the private and public health care sectors.  To meet that demand for qualified, educated health workers, HCC partnered with the California Health Workforce Alliance and the State of California Department of Health and Human Services to launch an HIT Fellowship Program.

HCC plans to increase the scale of its programs in current locations and to expand to other regions in coming years. In the Coachella Valley, local health care industry partners have invested significant time and resources to make HCC a long-lasting success for both students and organizations. Because of these contributions our HCC region is ahead of the curve in preparing the next generation workforce for prosperous careers in the health care industry.

For more information on the Health Career Connection Summer Internship Program, please contact Sheila Thornton sheila_thornton1@msn.com or @ 760-799-4137; Donna Sturgeon donnasturgeon@gmail.com or 760-861-8288.

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