Having Health Care Professionals from Similar Backgrounds as Patients Improves Health Outcomes
LOS ANGELES – An aging population, combined with an aging health care workforce and an increase in chronic diseases, is exacerbating the shortage of health care workers that has been a concern for years. L.A. Care Health Plan, the largest publicly operated health plan in the country, is working to get more people into the health careers pipeline. Today, in partnership with Health Career Connection (HCC), the health plan is launching its Health Careers Internship Program. This is a new program in L.A. Care’s Elevating the Safety Net initiative, a five-year, $155 million commitment to address the physician shortage in Los Angeles County.
Over the next three years, this new $800,000 investment will support a total of 96 summer internship positions for college students and recent graduates who are pursuing a career in health, and who have a desire to work in underserved communities. This investment will expand and scale HCC’s pipeline program to recruit and prepare students from underrepresented and low-income backgrounds for health careers.
“We launched Elevating the Safety Net in 2018 with a focus on increasing the number of primary care physicians in the L.A. County safety net, and the initiative has grown to include in-home caregivers and community health workers,” said John Baackes, L.A. Care CEO. “We know shortages exist in all areas of health care. As a health plan that serves under-resourced communities, we have a responsibility to do all we can to boost the number of all health care workers in the county.”
Over a 10-week period this summer, 34 students from Los Angeles County who come from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds will support various clinical and programmatic activities while interning at L.A. County community clinics, community-based organizations and L.A. Care.
“These internships provide paid real-world experience, mentoring and networking that will help these emerging leaders make well-informed health career choices,” said Patricia Etem, MPH, Health Career Connection’s Vice President, Southern California. “Ultimately, these interns will one day provide health care organizations a diverse workforce committed to community health and health equity.”
Jamileth Rodriguez, who is studying Global Studies at UC Santa Barbara and graduating next year, is hoping to learn more about the connection between social services and health, while interning at L.A. Care Health Plan.
“I have been working as a research assistant at the Center of Publicly Engaged Scholarship at USCB, and much of my research involves collecting data on food security, housing, and other resources in densely-populated communities,“ said Rodriguez. “I want to gain a better understanding of how these social factors impact health outcomes, in hopes that I can work to address them when I graduate.”
Hammad Khan, who just received his BS in Physiological Science from UCLA, has volunteered in a number of health care settings and will be interning at UMMA Community Clinic, a member of the Community Clinic Association of L.A. County (CCALAC), which serves under-resourced communities in South Los Angeles.
“Through my volunteer activities, I have received first-hand experience in multiple healthcare departments at hospitals in Santa Monica, and this paid internship is going to dramatically enhance that experience,” said Khan. “Working full time in a clinic over ten weeks will give me the head start needed for my planned career as a physician, and it will allow me to give back to the community that helped raise me.”
The interns will receive a stipend of up to $4,200, which can be applied to personal expenses and/or future educational endeavors. Interns will also receive post-internship career guidance, health care career pipeline navigation and academic application assistance to support their future endeavors in preparation to work in L.A. County’s safety net.
About Health Career Connection (HCC)
Co-Founded by CEO Jeff Oxendine, HCC is a 30-year, national non-profit that inspires, empowers and professionally prepares the next generation of diverse health leaders and professionals. HCC connects college students, recent graduates and its 3,800 alumni from underrepresented and/or low income, first generation backgrounds to paid internships, employment and graduate training opportunities within the health field. HCC partners with employers, universities, foundations, and associations to support interns and alumni pursuing careers in medicine, public health, nursing, behavioral health, health management, biotechnology, research, and related health career fields. The goal is for students to succeed in their authentic health careers and serve underserved communities. For more information, follow HCC on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.