Medical companies, community colleges create career paths

DaVita is teaming up with Colorado community colleges to solve health care workforce challenges.

DENVER — Colorado health care employer DaVita has joined with other major health care employers at state and community colleges to create equitable career paths for underserved students.

The Colorado Health Careers Collaborative Academy is a six-week program that introduces youth ages 16-24 to a variety of health care roles. The goal is to create a pathway for students who would otherwise not have access to such opportunities and address staffing challenges in the industry due to the COVID pandemic.

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“We’re facing a lot of challenges in healthcare right now that we haven’t seen in a lifetime,” said Kenny Gardner, DaVita’s Chief Human Resources Officer. “We wanted to introduce a lot of students to the world of healthcare, but ultimately get them through the doors of organizations like ours, so they can also be on a path to a long-term career, not just a job.”

DaVita released a recent report predicting a 54,000 healthcare worker shortage in Colorado by 2026.

To address staffing challenges, DaVita has partnered with Centura Health, HealthONE, Community College of Denver (CCD) and Arapahoe Community College (ACC) to create an equitable healthcare career path from education to employment for students , which are underserved. This includes students of color, first-generation students, and LGBTQ students.

“For students who have never considered a career in healthcare, our vision is to put it in front of them, inspire them, give them the tools and resources to come to a company like DaVita.” Gardner said. “[Also] get that first job and have the ladders and programs and support and sponsorship of their talent to take them as far as they can go.”

The program introduces students to jobs such as nursing (LPN/RN), medical assisting, medical laboratory science (CNA/Phlebotomy), and radiology technology, and provides students with professional skills such as interviewing and resume writing. Skills that Eagle Crest High School sophomore Rita Cbailey says will help her pursue her medical degree.

“I might want to go into nursing or surgery or criminology…so many different things because health care is a whole different world,” Kbaili said. “It’s nice to study it now as a sophomore in high school before I go out into the real world and try to get a job.”

The collaboration aims to help more academy students apply to higher education programs and entry-level healthcare jobs. ACC Program Manager Bree Barnes-Eldert said the goal is to diversify the health care workforce in Colorado.

“As we know right now, that’s not what’s happening right now,” Barnes-Eldert said. “So our students get an opportunity to shine and show others in the communities behind them that they can be out there and they can succeed and support people who look like them in a hospital or clinic.”

Gardner said the collaboration hopes the program will help underserved students gain employment in health care as part of their commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“We thought it was important to make a difference in the world around us,” Gardner said. “But we wanted to do it in a way that we thought was unique.”

For more information, click here: or the Colorado Health Careers Collaborative Academy website.



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