Building the Pipeline – A Student Showcase Success Story

Health Care Connect (HCC) is a program, managed out of the Chester County Economic Development Council, that was formed to address the workforce needs of the health care industry through sharing best practices, talent development/recruiting information, program ideas on trends and issues, and training grants to stabilize and strengthen the local workforce and enhance patient care.

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student career showcase at Paoli Hospital

HCC is comprised of over 60 organizations including hospitals, continuing care retirement communities, home health companies, acute rehabilitation facilities, educational institutions, and county development offices sharing the goal of improving the quality of health care delivery in the surrounding region.

One of the critical goals of Health Care Connect is pipeline development. Helping students learn about and aspire to careers in tomorrow’s prominent fields is an integral and important aspect of nurturing and maintaining a talented and viable labor force.

HCC partners with several health care organizations to organize what are called “Career Exploration Showcases” in the health care industry each year. Career showcases take the classroom on the road and give students the opportunity to explore a variety of local businesses and learn first-hand about career education paths.

One of the most frequent employer hosts in the health care industry is Main Line Health’s Paoli Hospital. In the 2015-16 program year, Paoli Hospital hosted a fall and a spring showcase for a total of 103 Chester County high school students.

When asked why Paoli continues to be involved in the Career Exploration Showcase program, Brad Zerr, Community Relations Manager says, “Paoli Hospital is thrilled to continue to partner with CCEDC and local high schools by hosting the showcase for the youth of our community. The showcases are an opportunity to provide a glimpse of the wide array of careers in the industry. The students that attend hear from passionate and caring professionals who want to share their journey and open students’ minds to the exciting world of health care. I wish these opportunities had been available when I was in high school!”

At a typical Paoli Hospital Showcase, students are exposed to presentations from hospital employees, given a tour of the facility, and participate in a variety of hands-on activities – including learning to suture on chicken thighs! At the end of each showcase, information is distributed on how to get involved with the hospital’s volunteer program.

Nicole, a Junior at the Downingtown STEM Academy, participated in the Spring 2016 Paoli Hospital Showcase. She thoroughly enjoyed her visit to Paoli Hospital and was inspired to look further into the volunteer program. She said, “The Paoli Hospital showcase has given me valuable information about my future as a healthcare professional, and opened my eyes to opportunities available to me as a high school student.”

One of the major benefits of the program is that once a student has volunteered 50 hours with the hospital, they are eligible to apply for a one-day, four-hour shadowing experience in a specific department. As an aspiring doctor, Nicole was eager to get involved. “I applied for the program right after the showcase! I am excited to say that I am now a hospital volunteer, and I plan to apply for the shadowing program as soon as I am eligible.”

Starting this month, Nicole is spending 4-7 hours per week at Paoli Hospital volunteering in various positions.  “I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the showcase and I encourage any student interested in healthcare to attend the next one!”

What’s Next for Health Care Connect?

Health Care Connect and Paoli Hospital have teamed up again and scheduled a fall student career exploration showcase for Tuesday, November 29, 2016. Registration information will be sent to Chester County School Districts in late October. Students are encouraged to sign up as soon as registration opens. The showcase allows for 50 students to participate and online registration is usually full within hours of opening. Follow Health Care Connect on Facebook to stay up to date as to when students can begin registering.

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