Franciscan Health will collaborate with other Central Indiana educational organizations to engage students in exploring careers in healthcare, thanks to an Indiana Department of Education grant.
Jennifer Olson, Franciscan Health director of clinical education, said the $852,000 grant is shared through a partnership with the Metropolitan Indianapolis-Central Indiana Area Health Education Center (MICI AHEC), Hardon Educational Institute, Indianapolis Public Schools and Transfr VR. The Franciscan Health Foundation is directing Franciscan’s portion, allowing the hiring of an outreach coordinator that will engage with students and help them learn the value of health careers.
“Most healthcare careers provide living wages with certification and/or an associate degree, making the middle class attainable for those that may not have the resources for a bachelor’s or master’s degree,” Olson said. “In addition, healthcare continues to be an industry where you can continue to attain additional education and training and grow your career. I know many a nurse who started as a housekeeper or nurse’s aide.”
The project aims to meet students where they are, following a student’s career exploration from the classroom to the healthcare setting. The student engagement and curriculum development include career days, presentations, panel discussions and virtual tours in elementary and middle school, enabling students to make an informed decision about the program of study they will pursue within healthcare. Franciscan will support the MICI AHEC in running camps, shadowing and healthcare career exploration events to engage students.
In high school, career preparation through work-based learning experiences and dual credit career technical education will provide technical skills necessary for success. After high school, students can opt for entry-level positions, Franciscan Alliance training programs, or clinical placement in Franciscan facilities when they enroll in a healthcare program at Hardon Educational Institute or another college.
The grant will also fund virtual reality (VR) headsets through a partnership with Transfr VR to use in training to provide students with realistic experiences. “We’re very excited about the VR because it is a more immersive training environment and we get data back to better coach and provide feedback to our employees,” Olson said.
The program will serve the Metropolitan Indianapolis Central Indiana area, a racially, ethnically and socioeconomically diverse area with 1.9 million people, or 29 percent of Indiana’s total population.
“Whether it’s going to college, entering a Franciscan training program, or starting their career with on-the-job training, our hope is to attract students to health careers while also recruiting them for meaningful roles within Franciscan,” Olson said.
“Franciscan has a responsibility – and benefits from – helping people choose a career in the hospital or ambulatory setting. Families that make a living wage with benefits will also be healthier families. And that is good for all of us as we seek improved population health,” she added.