Youth Workforce Development at TMC: The GO Program

Tucson Medical Center makes education a priority and provides opportunities inside the hospital for future providers to learn about health care.

Partnering with Tucson Youth Development – a local nonprofit serving low-income at-risk youth – and the Pima County Joint Technological Education District (JTED) – a public school district that provides free career and technical education to high school students – TMC gives youth a chance to get a head start on college and careers.

More than 100 teens have gone through TMC’s GO Program over the past 10 years, inspiring 90 percent to continue working in the medical field. This innovative collaboration guides youth along a successful career path, from vocational training in high school to a month-long paid internship – and when it leads to full-time employment, it helps develop the workforce in an industry with a high demand for skilled employees.

Samantha Cooper TMC Employee & Go Program Graduate

Samantha Cooper
TMC Employee & Go Program Graduate

For Samantha Cooper, a chance at a medical career became possible as a senior in high school. Cooper’s high school offered a Certified Nurse Assistant class through the JTED program. Interested in medicine and excited about the opportunity to gain exposure to the medical field, Cooper enrolled in the class. She says, “My CNA teacher, Miss Francis, encouraged me to apply to the GO program at TMC. I participated in the program during the summer following my high school graduation in May 2011. As an intern, I received basic technician training, then I chose to pursue the Emergency Department. Luckily there was an opening for me.” She was hired as a Patient Care Technician (PCT) in the ED in August 2011 and has been there ever since.

Connie Tran’s experience with the GO program has been similar to Cooper’s. Also a participant in the JTED program throughout high school, Tran is a recent 2014 GO Program graduate. She used the internship as a stepping stool for eventual medical school. She shares, “I really like this internship because all boundaries are off. They are training you to work.” Like Cooper, Tran learned the skills of a PCT; however, she spent her internship in the Intensive Care Unit.

Cooper, now confident that she wants to remain in the medical field, has her sights set high. She plans to first obtain her paramedic license, and then to eventually become a Registered Nurse, Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner. “I haven’t really decided which direction I want to go yet, but I definitely want to advance my education,” she says. “I am working on my pre-requisites now, and I want to go back to school in the fall.”

Tran, a recipient of a Tucson Metro Chamber scholarship, will be a first-year student at the University of Arizona in the fall, with plans to pursue a major in biology. The scholarship she has earned is awarded to high school seniors who plan to remain in Tucson for their higher education. Chamber President & CEO Mike Varney says, “The point of this scholarship is to keep talent in Tucson.” Connie Tran was the perfect fit.

Connie Tran working the Teddy Bear Clinic

Connie Tran working the Teddy Bear Clinic

Tran hopes to continue working at TMC part-time while attending the University.  After obtaining her undergraduate degree, her goal is to go on to Medical School in Tucson to become a doctor—perhaps OBGYN. She says, “In the long-run, I really want to work at TMC. Everyone is so friendly here, and I know the patients are happy because of the care they are given.”

Both Cooper and Tran recommend the GO program for anyone in high school who is even slightly interested in medicine. Cooper says, “Programs like this are excellent because they allow you to get your foot in the door to the world of medicine prior to advanced schooling.” Tran offers advice for a future GO program intern. She says, “Don’t be hesitant, be hands on, and ask questions. That is how you learn.”

Arnold Palacios, Tucson Youth Development Director, speaks highly of TMC’s workforce development program. “TMC has been an excellent collaborator and leader in the community in terms of training and development of the workforce. They give people hope and opportunity,” he says.

Katie Brooks, workforce development coordinator at TMC, adds, “Our relationship with Tucson Youth Development and JTED is a perfect match. The students they have sent us have been exceptional – incredibly hard-working and motivated. They bring phenomenal compassion and commitment to their work. They are just so vibrant, fresh and eager to learn.”

This model has been so successful that it is being replicated in other industries with workforce shortages in Pima County. Cooper says, “I am very happy I did this program. I am excited to see more programs similar to this integrated into organizations in the area. It was a great experience, and I feel lucky to have been involved.”

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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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