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Upon graduation and completion of the fellowship program, students will be guaranteed a job with IU Health, as well as tuition assistance to complete a related post-secondary degree.
By Maureen Gilmer, IU Health senior journalist, firstname.lastname@example.org
By this time next year, select students at Crispus Attucks High School will be on their way to a medical career with IU Health.
The pilot program is the cornerstone of a bold new partnership between IU Health and Indianapolis Public Schools. In concert with other community partners, the two are teaming up to build a medical magnet curriculum and career pathway programming that will benefit IPS students, the healthcare industry and the Indianapolis community.
Upon graduation and completion of the fellowship program, students will be guaranteed a job offer with IU Health, as well as tuition assistance to complete a related post-secondary degree.
It makes sense, considering Attucks, with a student population of about 1,100, is in IU Health’s backyard in Downtown Indianapolis. The school opened in 1927 at 1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. Nearby, Riley Hospital for Children opened in 1924, while the original 65-bed Methodist Hospital opened in 1908.
Jamal Smith, director of government affairs and strategic partnerships for IU Health, has been working on the partnership for the past year.
“The ultimate purpose is to invest in the space of education … removing the barriers of finance and access for students to advance their academic and professional careers,” he said. “The goal is to solidify this project where industry invests in not just hiring, but in the actual development of young people.”
As the leading healthcare provider in the state and one of the largest employers, IU Health is uniquely positioned to support students who choose to pursue careers in healthcare.
In return for its investment, IU Health will have created a pipeline of young talent familiar with the industry who understand the culture of the organization, Smith said.
“We are looking to roll it out by way of introduction to freshmen this year, then open it up for the application process in the spring,” he said.
Classes would begin next fall.
Dennis Murphy, president and CEO of IU Health, said the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to invest in the next generation of healthcare providers.
“We know there are capable, passionate students in our own backyard,” he said. “Our partnership with IPS can help drive the success of its students. By removing barriers of access and finance, this program will promote student success and satisfaction, leading to a stable workforce and improving the economic landscape of Indiana.”
Jennifer O’Shea, post-secondary readiness officer for IPS, calls the partnership “an amazing opportunity for our kids.”
“To have a company, especially with the size and scope of IU Health, sit down with us and really help us … get our kids to a point where they’re not just graduating with a diploma, but they’re actually ready for meaningful work with a company that has said not only will we hire these students and give them good jobs, we’ll also provide internal growth opportunities and tuition support – it really doesn’t get any better than that,” she said.
The number of students accepted into the fellowship program will be small initially, starting at about 25, O’Shea said. But the goal is to grow it every year.
The pilot program will build upon the school’s health sciences pathway to offer additional tracks within the healthcare industry for some of the most in-demand careers, including medical assistant and patient care assistant. Students will be expected to complete clinical hours in the healthcare setting.
While IU Health has worked in the past to expose IPS students to healthcare careers, this goes well beyond that, Smith said.
“We’re not just providing an example. We’re investing in the development of the curriculum, and we’re standing behind that investment and saying that for any young person who is able to meet all of the benchmarks and come through with a diploma and the certifications, we will guarantee a job offer,” he said.
“They’re not obligated to come to IU Health, but we hope they do. Even if they don’t, at a minimum what we’ve done is directly invested in … young people who will be productive employees and citizens no matter where they go.”
O’Shea hopes the IPS-IU Health career pathway project inspires other employers to step up their involvement with the district’s schools.
“You’re being a great community partner, but you’re also filling your own talent pipeline,” she said. “You’re being a part of the process and the solution. We have some amazing employers in Central Indiana who are great partners with the district, but this is just above and beyond.”
Photo by Mike Dickbernd, IU Health visual journalist, email@example.com