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Partners HealthCare job training enables careers in health care for Boston residents

4/19/2011, 11:52 p.m.
Pictured are recent PCWD graduates. In the front row seated (from l to r) are: Sandra Figueroa, Shaylaya...
Pictured are recent PCWD graduates. In the front row seated (from l to r) are: Sandra Figueroa, Shaylaya Smoot, Jacqueline Garvin and Kandice Pina. In the back row standing (from l to r) are: Joel Fuertes, Lisa Rojas, Yuliya Mironovas, Pamela Mason, Jeanette DeChiara, Abdelmoumene Djellouli and Deborah Washington, RN, director, Patient Care Service Diversity Program Mass General Hospital and guest speaker. Partners Healthcare

Partners HealthCare’s  Partners in Career and Workforce Development program (PCWD), is a rigorous, six-week job training and internship program intended to enable Boston area residents to have careers in health care.  

Jessica Devance, a job-training graduate and class speaker, shared her thoughts about PCWD with her classmates last month: “Partners has opened doors that some of us never even knew existed, and it has started a new chapter to each and every one of our life stories.”

The program offers intense training of both “hard” and “soft” skills, including workshops that focus on: medical terminology, customer service and communication in a professional health care environment, resume writing and interview skills. Devance said, “I thought it was too good to be true, but now, six weeks later, I realize that PCWD was everything it promised to be. It provided structure, support and amazing opportunities.”  

As the largest private employer in the state, Partners HealthCare takes a lead in work force development. The organization employs 54,000 people and works to develop health careers all along the continuum with young people, current employees and community residents.

Since PCWD started in 2003, 312 Boston area residents have graduated and 85 percent have found full-time employment throughout the Partners HealthCare hospital network. “This program challenges and inspires people,” said Cynthia Briggs, director of PCWD. “In order to succeed in PCWD, participants must be at a point in their lives where they are ready to commit to doing the hard work to engage in and complete this program and begin their careers in health care.”  

That’s exactly where Joel Fuertes was when he connected with PCWD. “I was ready to cross off the idea of obtaining a career in health care because I didn’t have the financial means to attain the education I needed to have one,” said Fuertes. At 23, this bright and enthusiastic young man was ready to surrender to the notion of being stuck in a job with no benefits and limited room for advancement.

That was in 2010. Now, after completing PCWD last November, he is working full-time and earns benefits at Massachusetts General Hospital. Joel is a Unit Service Coordinator II in Adult Neurology. His main responsibility is coordinating patient care for eight doctors and managing the Lumbar Puncture clinic.

He is at the beginning of his career in health care and on a path of economic opportunity that he once thought was unattainable.

Matt Fishman, vice president for Community Health at Partners HealthCare, explained the significance of PCWD to the organization, “Our hospitals benefit from PCWD in so many ways. It better connects us to the communities we serve because it brings to our work force talented, committed and enthusiastic people from the neighborhoods our hospitals serve. PCWD helps ensure our organization to reflect the richness and the diversity of the city.”

PCWD is a collaboration between the Community Benefit and Human Resources departments at Partners HealthCare and with its external partners, Jewish Vocational Service and Project Hope. “Working together with our internal and external partners, we are committed to creating economic opportunity for community residents, current employees and the next generation of care givers,” said Dennis Colling, vice president of human resources at Partners HealthCare.

The most recent class of graduates — which includes Devance and 15 other participants — may have completed the program last month, but they are still connected to PCWD through its job search and placement phase, a component of the program called Career Club. In addition to meeting with recruiters and hiring managers, graduates may participate in paid extended internships to continue their training as they seek positions in Partners HealthCare hospitals including Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital — the founding hospitals of Partners HealthCare. Following job placement, each employee receives one year of post-placement follow-up that includes continued support and career development services.

The next PCWD class begins May 9, 2011. To learn more, visit www.partners.org/jobtraining.