Knowing what careers exist and how to enter those fields can be a daunting task for any young person. Helping expose today’s youth to mentors, careers, and workplaces will ensure the workforce of tomorrow represents the communities we serve. For the last few years, Kaiser Permanente has prioritized finding opportunities for young people in our communities to connect with meaningful career paths in health-related fields, both in and out of clinical settings.
A core objective of the Community Health team is to improve the pipeline for youth into careers in health-related fields. Unlike traditional internship programs, which tend to be for college or graduate students, we have created opportunities to include high school students in our outreach. This summer, 40 high school students were placed in paid internships across the Mid-Atlantic States. Over the course of six weeks, the students worked in medical centers as well as with our community partners in locations from Baltimore all the way down to Fairfax county. On Wednesday, August 1st, our high school interns were invited to attend a culminating event at the Center for Total Health. In addition to celebrating their achievements and recognizing their mentors, this was an opportunity to reflect on what they learned and connect young people from across the region with likeminded commitment to changing and improving their communities.
In Northern Virginia, one student was recognized by her supervisors for her hard work and contributions to their conference preparation that she was invited to attend the event with her managers in New Orleans as part of her internship. In Baltimore, several students were singled out for praise as exemplary leaders by their mentors. In DC, one student had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the body scan of a patient with their heart on the right side, rather than the left. For each of these students, the experience was more than just a job; it was a window to a possible future.
In an age where young people are increasingly taking a stand on issues of importance to them, this was an event that encouraged connectedness and cross-regional support. Not only has this summer exposed a new group of young people to the work and mission of Kaiser Permanente, it supported a growing a movement of youth-led change in our region. This program wouldn’t have been possible without our outstanding community partners, Urban Alliance Northern Virginia, the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, Prince George’s Co Youth@Works Program and Baltimore City YouthWorks Program.