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Health care employers, community colleges create career pathways for underserved students

DaVita teams up with Colorado community colleges to address health care staffing challenges.

DENVER — Colorado health care employer DaVita teamed up with other major health care employers in the state and local community colleges to create an equitable career pathway for underserved students. 

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

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“Right now in health care, we’re facing a myriad of challenges that haven’t been seen in a lifetime,” said Kenny Gardner, Chief People Officer for DaVita. “We wanted to introduce many students to the world of health care but ultimately get them into doors of organizations like our own to then also to be on a pathway to have a long-term career, not just a job.”

Credit: Byron Reed
DaVita Chief People Officer Kenny Gardner said, "We have a very significant commitment to diversity and belonging."

Mercer released a recent report that predicted that Colorado will be short 54,000 health care workers by 2026.

To address staffing challenges, DaVita teamed up with Centura Health, HealthONE, Community College of Denver (CCD) and Arapahoe Community College (ACC) to create an equitable education-to-employment health career pathway for underserved students. This includes students from communities of color, first-generation college students and LGBTQ students.

Credit: Byron Reed

“For students who have never thought about a career in health care, our vision for them is to put it in front of them, to inspire them, to give them the tools and resources to come into a company like DaVita,” said Gardner. “[Also] to get that first job, and to have the ladders and the programs, the advocacy and the sponsorship for their talents to take them as far as they can take them.”

Credit: DaVita

The program introduces students to jobs like nursing (LPN/RN), medical assisting, medical lab sciences (CNA/Phlebotomy) and radiologic technology, as well as providing students professional skills like interviewing and resume writing. Skills that Eagle Crest High School sophomore Rita Kbayli said will help her in her pursuit of a medical degree.

Credit: Byron Reed
Eagle Crest High School sophomore Rita Kbayli said, " (The program) gives me hope that my friends, my family…they can pursue anything that they’re interested in."

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

Credit: Byron Reed

The collaboration aims to help more students from the academy to apply to higher education programs and entry level health care jobs. The program’s ACC program manager Bri Barnes-Eldert said the goal is to diversify the workforce within the healthcare industry in Colorado.

Credit: DaVita

“As we know right now, that isn’t something that is currently taking place,” said Barnes-Eldert. “So, having our students gain the opportunities to show up and show others in communities behind them that they can be there, and they can be successful and support people that look like them within the hospital or clinical setting.”

Gardner said the collaboration hopes the program will help underserved students get a job in the health care industry as part of their commitment to diversity and belonging.

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

For more information, click here: careers.davita.com or the Colorado Health Careers Collaborative Academy's website.



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