Section: Jersey City Medical Center News

Building Bridges Between Inner City Children and Healthcare Careers


Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health (JCMC) is a not-for-profit 350-bed Level 2 Trauma Center facility located in the heart of the Jersey City, NJ, the second most diverse city in the United States. The hospital serves as a regional referral and teaching hospital, providing the highest level of care to women and infants, and trauma and cardiac patients, in addition to offering a full array of medical specialties and sub-specialties.

Located on a 16-acre campus, JCMC is home to some of the best and brightest medical professionals, who employ the latest technologies to provide state-of-the art care complemented by professionalism and compassion. The hospital's Imaging Center features advanced imaging technology, including the latest digital mammography, MRI, digital radiology, ultrasound, and dual energy x-ray equipment. In The Cristie Kerr Women's Health Center, all women have convenient access to the highest level of medical diagnostics and screening. Our award-winning EMS department consistently sets the gold standard for response times and outcomes and is a leader in the use of innovative technology to achieve these standards. The hospital recently became part of the Barnabas Health system, the state's largest provider of health care services.

To continue to foster a close relationship with the communities it serves, as well as further its relationships with employees and other key audiences, the hospital's HR department has established a number of new and innovative programs.

The path of creating bridges between Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health and the residents of Jersey City started with our employees and their children, over 50% of whom live in Jersey City, with creation of the following programs:

"Take your Sons and Daughters to Work Day"

This program, which began in 2011, enables the children of our employees and physicians to spend a fun-filled educational day learning about healthcare careers by touring the hospital, taking part in presentations on topics such as Bullying and Texting While Walking/Driving, learning CPR, experiencing a "Day of the Life of a Nurse and a Doctor," and interviewing the CEO.

This program far exceeds a traditional Take Your Child to Work Day, where the child visits the work site and sits in mom's or dad's office or workstation. Instead, JCMC's program has children actively involved and experiencing things first hand during eight full hours. The result is positive exposure to a plethora of healthcare career possibilities, a better understanding of the role the Jersey City Medical Center plays in their community, and the importance of a sound education.

Summer Internship Program

In our quest to discover new ways to make healthcare relevant in the lives of young people, we developed a six-week paid Summer Internship Program for the children of employees and physicians. Each year, applicants with a grade point average of B or higher are invited to complete an application and provide two letters of recommendation from a teacher or employer. Upon acceptance, the interns participate in the "new hire process" along with all new employees and attend a two-day new employee orientation program to increase their knowledge and enable them to work safely in a healthcare environment. During this time, the mission, vision and values of Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health are outlined with the understanding that everyone is expected to live the values and display them at all times.

Depending upon the student's interest and abilities and the needs of the various hospital departments, children are placed in a department of mutual interest to work on meaningful projects during their six week-stint. Department managers teach them about careers available, requirements needed, and what one must accomplish to be successful.

In addition, the students participate in weekly staff meetings held by HR, where they learn skills such as resume writing, behavioral-based interviewing skills, public speaking techniques, work place decorum, etc. After three weeks, the students appear before their peers to present what they have learned in their work at Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health. Those presentations are critiqued in order to reinforce the lessons learned and sharpen public speaking skills.

EMS Fast Track Program and PCT/Medical Billing Training.

Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health also acknowledges the need to support our employees in their career goals. This is accomplished by providing employees with a generous tuition reimbursement program, as well as free education career advancement opportunities, such as our EMS Fast Track Program and PCT/Medical Billing Training. Employees are educated on-site and childcare is provided on-site to encourage participation. Successful participants who complete the program receive a New Jersey State Certification as an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic, a Certified Patient Care Technician, or a Medical Coder/Biller.

The EMS Fast Track Program is an in-house program delivered by our highly competent, highly qualified EMS educators, and the PCT/Medical Billing Training Program is made possible through a partnership with the Newark Alliance and its funders.

In 2013, 20 of our own entry level employees received education by subject matter experts from William Patterson University, graduated from the Program, and have received promotional opportunities in the Medical Center. At graduation, many of the participants expressed their gratitude and shared how their financial, family and quality of life has changed for the better.

"A Week in Career Exploration"

JCMC's desire to enhance its relationships within the community was furthered when its President/CEO Joseph Scott, FACHE, was asked by the Boys and Girls Club to speak in a Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) seminar about healthcare careers. This grew into a week-long program entitled "A Week in Career Exploration" held at Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health where our own professionals from the Behavioral Health, Nursing, Human Resources, and Security departments shared their career paths, struggles and triumphs. The program's success was largely due to the connection the presenters made with the children because of their similar life challenges and the techniques and resources they used to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.

One of the obstacles faced by educators is the inability to communicate the value of education to a youth who is primarily focused on social media. This program brought the students on-site to the hospital, where they personally met professionals who had backgrounds similar to theirs and who had achieved career success.

At the start of this week-long program, many of the students dreamed of becoming professional athletes or rap stars and were dressing the part, speaking the street lingo, and making the motions. By the end of the program, students came dressed in Dockers and pullover shirts, and electronic items were nowhere to be found, as they stood erect and confidently voiced their interest in becoming Registered Nurses, Psychologists, and Human Resource professionals. Their week-long experiences in the hospital made them realize they could make a difference in their lives and the lives of others by becoming healthcare providers.

Great Futures High School for the Health Sciences

The next step was to educate young people in greater numbers and in September 2013 the Boys and Girls Club of Hudson County and Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health received the opportunity for 500 students to enroll in the Great Futures High School for the Health Sciences. Jersey City Medical Center will provide exploration, practicum, mentorships and internships in three career paths - clinical, technical, and administrative beginning in September 2014.

Through our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program and through William Patterson University, high school juniors and seniors can become certified Emergency Medical Technicians or Patient Care Technicians, thereby affording them the skill and ability to work in healthcare upon graduation from high school. Every student attending the Charter High School for the Health Sciences will participate in rotations at JCMC. Our goal is for the students to continue their education by attending colleges and universities and paying for their continued education with jobs utilizing their newly acquired skills. All students will be able to earn college credits through the years they attend the high school and eventually create a bridge program that will allow them to graduate with an associate's degree.

Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health has a firm commitment to the community we serve and we will continue to seek opportunities to improve the lives of our patients, our employees, and families. Some people believe "You can't be it if you can't see it." At Jersey City Medical Center – Barnabas Health, we show people the way to see it and be it.

Mary Cataudella is Vice President, Human Resources, and Lourdes Valdes, Employment Manager for Human Resources at Jersey City Medical Center - Barnabas Health.

By Mary Cataudella, MA, PHR and Lourdes Valdes

Categories: Press Releases