Health Career Connection (HCC) is a national, non-profit organization that provides under-represented or disadvantaged college students and recent graduates with a ten-week paid internship in a health related field. This summer marked the return of the HCC internship program, the only one of its kind in the Coachella Valley. The number of interns in the local program has nearly tripled since it began in 2009, with this summer’s cohort being the biggest to date. This year twenty-one diverse individuals from around the desert participated in the program.
What is unique about HCC is that students gain skills and exposure to careers that are not directly clinical or lab based. The program is designed for students with an interest in medicine as well as health administration, community health, and research. For example, host organizations range from Angel View to Desert Blood Services to FIND Food Bank, allowing interns to develop a more comprehensive definition of public health. The interns tackle public health disparities at the source by providing food to the hungry, supporting disadvantaged youth, and conducting independent studies, to name a few.
The HCC program was brought to the region through a partnership with CVEP. The CVEP-HCC program is focused on creating “locally grown professionals” and is designed to attract local students to come back to the desert where they will eventually fill high-demand health professions. Retaining talented young professionals is key to producing a culturally competent and economically sound workforce locally. About 60% of HCC interns are offered jobs or have their internships extended by the organizations for which they work. 1
The internship is currently CVEP’s gold standard program. Due to its success, CVEP is looking to replicate the program in other industry clusters such as renewable energy and arts, media, and entertainment. What makes the internship so valuable is its widespread and long-lasting results. The program prepares the next generation of health leaders while also producing tangible improvements in community health.
Deborah Bayer, 2012 preceptor and Stroke Coordinator from Eisenhower Medical Center, shared, “We were so fortunate to be part of this program; to be able to participate with our community and with growing our future leaders.” Desiree Porras, a former intern also expressed, “Who better to lead the community than someone from within the community?” The program has become popular among a variety of local organizations because it allows employers to train and test out potential new hires. Host organizations also benefit from the insight and expertise that the young interns bring to the table.
The closing ceremony in September marks the end of the program, and interns and preceptors alike will share their experiences at the final event. Every year touching testimonials reveal the life-changing and invaluable impact the program has had on not only the students, but the entire Coachella Valley as well.
For more information on CVEP’s intern programs, contact Donna Sturgeon Donna@cvep.com 760-861-8288
Reference: 1) http://www.healthcareers.org/about-us/impact