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Students Hit the Books and the Halls of the Hospital in Penn Medicine's Unique Career Prep Program for Students in West Philadelphia High Schools

Nahree-Anderson-Shanice-Jackson-Lorna-Taylor-and-Diane-Leichter-for-blogGatheringfor a recent ceremony celebrating this year’s graduating class, Penn Medicinestaff, family members, community partners, and friends quickly learned whatmakes the comprehensive Penn Medicine High School Pipeline program a successevery year.  That success is measured ineach and every student entering the program. Indeed, 100 percent of pipelinestudents in 2012 graduated from high school, compared to 59% in the city ofPhiladelphia as a whole. One hundred percent of the class was accepted intocollege as well.

In theprogram, students worked across UPHS, regularly met with different mentors andmanagers, and experienced other professional development opportunities. Theyaccomplished this while taking community college courses and everything elsethat comes with being a high school student.

Withfinancial support from Penn Medicine, University City District (UCD), and thePhiladelphia Youth Network, Pipeline graduates can become a Penn Medicine AcademyIntern. The internship invites approximately ten students to work 20 hours aweek and be paid for 40 hours a week. The 40 hours allows participants to takeadvantage of Penn Medicine’s tuition benefit to help fund a college education.

In total, 88students have served in the 2-year, year-round program since it began in 2010.From 2007-2010, the program was an internship-only program. Since 2007, 197students –all drawn from West Philadelphia high schools, including mostly recentlyBoys Latin Charter HS, Paul Robeson HS, and Sayre HS -- have been enrolled inPipeline.

“You notonly met our expectations, but you exceeded them,” said Frances Graham, associate director of workforce development, to thestudent attendees.

Grahamcredits Judy Schueler, vicepresident, Organizational Development, and chief Human Resources officer, asthe visionary who brought the project to fruition.  Schueler told the attendees that she meetsnew hires monthly and asks what attracted them to work at Penn Medicine. Inaddition to salary, benefits, reputation of the institution, and other factors,Schueler says that the “culture of learning and innovation” attracts people andconvinces them to stay long term.

It is thiscommitment that led Schueler to create the Pipeline program as a summerinternship six years ago, and extend it to a 12-month program in 2010.

“This ispart of Penn Medicine’s commitment to the belief that education transformslives,” said Schueler. “One hundred percent of this graduating class is goingto college, and that is a tribute to the students, to our faculty and staff whoserve as mentors, and particular praise to TelandriaBoyd-Johnson and FrancesGraham who work with this program every day.” 

The programrecruits solely from West Philadelphia schools, and also mirrors one of themissions of Penn President Amy Gutmann’s Penn Compact as a tribute to the University’scommitment to its community.

Additionalfunding comes from HUP’s Trauma department in the form of $500 scholarships forseven selected students aspiring for a health care career.

The impactof these students and their mentors is felt throughout UPHS. One example is Victoria Brown, clinical transplantnurse in Surgical Nursing, who mentored Brittney Williams on Rhoads 4.

“The peopleI met and the lessons I learned made it fun,” said Williams. “It wasdefinitely a good experience.”

During herinternship, Brittney made patient’s beds, talked to patients, delivered ice andsupplies, answered the front desk phone, directed family members, and assistedwherever needed.

Brittanylooks forward to taking what she learned in this experience to Jackson StateUniversity this Fall, where she is attending on a full scholarship.

“Brittany and I formed a bond beyond mentorship,” said Brown.  “We talked about the importance of beingpersistent and organized in everything you do, and avoiding procrastination. Nomatter what, wherever you are, you always represent yourself and want to makesure you are professional and perform to what you speak to and stand for.”

Anotherstory is Shanice Jackson, who is a CCP student and current PMA intern for thePerelman Center for Advanced Medicine Rapid Response Team.  She credits the Academy and the mentoring shereceives from Andrea Blount, primarycare connector nurse, in Trauma, with helping direct her career.

“When Ifirst came to the program, I said I wanted to be a neonatal nurse,” said Jackson.“I didn’t want to work with older populations. Being in the Trauma departmentand assisting with falls prevention programs taught me that older patients arejust as important.”

While PennMedicine and partners invested in these students, the students invested muchtime and energy in return.
“For the time they could have spent sleeping in, going to the movies or playingvideo games, they decided ‘I’m going to work, take college courses, do myhomework, study and prepare for my future -- we are so proud of them,’” saidBoyd-Johnson, a workforce development coordinator at Penn Medicine.

Schuelerextended her praise to students for their achievements and challenged them toreach new heights, both personally and professionally.

“Each andevery day you have an opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life,” saidSchueler. “Seize that opportunity.”


Community College of Philadelphia Student Shanice Jackson, (second from left), who currently transports HUP patients in the Pipeline Program, with a Silverstein 9 team at the HS Pipeline graduation (from l to r): Nahree Anderson, nursing assistant, Lorna Taylor, unit secretary, and Diane Leichter, nurse manager.


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