Program Creates Opportunities in Healthcare Jobs for Young People with Disabilities

young workers

The goal is help these individuals enter the healthcare workforce and secure solid healthcare jobs. The successful program now operates in 42 states in the United States as well as in Australia and the United Kingdom. It has been credited with changing countless lives and creating new opportunities and independence for those who so often find starting a career difficult.

Project Search is a growing program designed to help young adults with significant disabilities

The program reaches out to young adults ages 18-21 and offers them on-the-job training and a paycheck. These young people can learn skills needed for a wide variety of positions including patient services, materials management, environmental services, clerical positions, food service, information servers, therapy jobs at rehabilitation hospitals , and countless other potential career skills

In addition to healthcare job training, Project Search offers job coaching, educational opportunities, tips on work ethics and work-site rotations, all designed to help individuals with disabilities prepare for success in the healthcare job  industry.

Project Search started in 1996, the result of a partnership between Cincinnati Children's Hospital, Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission, the Hamilton County Board of Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities and others.

The program varies somewhat from location to location but a typical schedule might have participants working their healthcare jobs five days a week with two hours a day in a classroom setting where they learn job readiness skills. The rest of the day can be viewed as an internship where actual healthcare  job skills are learned. They are paid for their time.

Among the countless benefits the program offers is helping participants tackle that difficult transition from school years to joining the work force. The program has also given the families of these young people a lift and hope for their futures.

One of the more recent hospitals to join the program was St. Mary's in Richmond, Virginia.

In June, six students completed the program. None received a diploma but rather something more important to them...a job. The six trained in departments ranging from nutrition and radiology to linens and pediatrics.

The list of jobs these Project Search participants qualify for is extensive. At rehabilitation hospitals any number of therapy jobs or rehab jobs could be deemed suitable. Students have trained in Family Care Centers, Coronary Care, Infection Control and almost every imaginable sector of the healthcare jobs industry.

Joshua Parker, a Project Search student/intern at St. Mary's summed it up nicely when he called his involvement "the chance of a lifetime".