TriHealth, sponsors endow health careers for Cincinnati high schoolers

TriHealth has created a $14 million endowment to fund a program creating a new generation of diverse health care workers.

Jeremiah Kirkland, Good Samaritan Evendale president, who helped launched TriHealth’s health care career program for Cincinnati public school high schoolers.

The only program of its kind in Greater Cincinnati and one of the few in the country, TriHealth’s School to Work program with Cincinnati Public Schools aims to inspire diverse high school students to pursue careers in health care. As part of the two-year program, students gain “real-life” work experience and mentorship from health care professionals who they rotate quarterly with across clinical and support departments within Good Samaritan Hospital, all while earning a paycheck and high school credit for applied learning.

The program was initially funded by a $1 million grant from TriHealth sponsor Bethesda Inc.’s grantmaking arm, bi3. The initial cohort consisted of 10 students from CPS’s Hughes High School. The students graduated in the spring of 2021. Nine of these students are pursuing future careers in health care, and one-third of the inaugural class have accepted part-time positions within TriHealth hospitals as they further their education.

bi3 and another TriHealth sponsor, CommonSpirit, are each funding $6 million of the endowment. TriHealth is investing an additional $2 million. The systems hope to raise another $1 million to create an endowment that will ensure the program’s future.

The program is modeled upon the success of a similar apprenticeship program in Rochester, NY. The program in Rochester began in 1989. Over a nine-year period, 100 percent of the students who completed the Rochester Youth Apprentice program graduated from high school and gained college acceptance. Of those, more than 85% of the students pursued careers in health care.

Jeremiah Kirkland, president and chief operating officer of Good Samaritan Hospital at Evendale, is a graduate of the Rochester Youth Apprentice program and brought this concept to Greater Cincinnati upon his arrival to TriHealth in 2018.

“Coming from a program like this, I know what it means to have an opportunity to be able to get a foot in the door of a competitive industry,” said Kirkland. “TriHealth is showing a tremendous commitment to helping grow a diverse workforce with the School to Work program.”

The new endowment will allow TriHealth to recruit students from other CPS system high schools. The goal is to grow the program’s enrollment to between 40-50 CPS high school students at all times.

“Getting the students to and from school without them having to find their own transportation has been a barrier to expanding the program to more schools,” said Kirkland.

Some of the new funding will solve the transportation obstacles.

Students will also be exposed to additional learning opportunities as a result of the endowment with plans to organize an annual health care exploration field trip. This will consist of students touring other regional and national medical facilities where they can participate and interact with medical professionals to gain insights on healthcare operations in markets beyond Greater Cincinnati. For some of the students, it will be the first time they have ever traveled outside the Greater Cincinnati area.

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