Healthcare companies, community colleges create career paths

DaVita partners with Colorado community colleges to address healthcare workforce challenges.

DENVER — Colorado healthcare employer DaVita has teamed up with other major healthcare employers in the state and community colleges to create an equitable career path for underserved students.

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

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

DaVita released a recent report predicting that Colorado will have a shortage of 54,000 healthcare workers by 2026.

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

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

The program introduces students to careers such as nursing (LPN/RN), medical assisting, medical laboratory science (CNA/Phlebotomy), and radiology technology, as well as providing students with professional skills such as interviewing and resume writing. Skills that Eagle Crest High School sophomore Rita Kbaili said will help her in her pursuit of a medical degree.

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

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

“As we know right now, that’s not something that’s happening right now,” Barnes-Eldert said. “So our students get the opportunities to show up and show others in the communities behind them that they can be there, and they can be successful and support people who look like them in the hospital or clinical setting.”

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

“We thought it was important to change the world around us,” Gardner said. “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 website.

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