“I always felt like it was important for me to help individuals, and I liked the healthcare field. But I think it really sparked with me when I started to do my CNA [certified nursing assistant] training.”Eric Osaro, Pre-med student, Marquette University
“I worked with adults at the end of their life. Most of them had Alzheimer’s dementia, and they were being neglected because they couldn’t speak for themselves. It motivated me to pursue a healthcare career. You see that neglect, and you want to do something about it.”
“My high school experience gave me a broad-spectrum overview of the healthcare field. I started the summer after sophomore year at South Shore Hospital, in central supply. I also did a program at Lurie Children’s Hospital where we shadowed a different department every week for six weeks. I was with a social worker, with a transport team, in cardiology.”
“Once I finished my training and passed the board exam, I also had the opportunity to do an internship at Lurie working as a CNA. They paired me up with someone who had been there for a year or two, and we went wherever they need us: in the emergency room, on the wards taking vitals every four hours, in pre-op. It was a great experience. I realized that the thing I enjoy most is forming those connections with patients and really seeing the effect of what you do. Especially with children, seeing them progress socially and physically makes you want to keep going.”
“After the internship, Lurie offered to hire me part time while I was in college. I decided to go to Marquette, so I couldn’t accept, but I hope I can work there over the summer. I still have those contacts with the people in H.R.”
“Right now I’m majoring in biological science with a minor in business. It’s difficult, but manageable. Working 12-hour hospital shifts helped me with my time management skills and even with the curriculum. I hear something in biology class that I remember overhearing from a doctor or nurse, and it clicks.”
Our partners are getting students and entry-level workers ready to excel in those jobs. Together, we’re making the healthcare sector a driver of local economic prosperity—and health.
For most Americans, economic stability—money enough to meet current needs and set some aside for the future—is tied to a good job, one that offers steady, safe, living-wage work and the possibility of advancement.
For all Americans, economic stability has an outsize impact on health.
Metropolitan Chicago has its share of communities in which good jobs are scarce, educational attainment is low, and economic stability is elusive. We believe, as do our partners, that growth in our region’s healthcare sector presents us with a real opportunity to change the trajectory of these communities while improving health.
If we can connect young people to jobs that pay well, we can increase their economic stability, which in turn will increase the pool of resources—economic, social, and professional—that will one day be available to their children. If we work with employers to meet their needs for high-quality, work-ready healthcare professionals, we can encourage local hiring while improving health care overall. And if we increase the diversity and cultural competence of our healthcare workforce, we can improve patient satisfaction, healthcare utilization, and even health outcomes in our increasingly diverse society.
Mid-skill salaries in health care
|Certified Nursing Assistant||$31,283–$38,406||$34,521|
Success of Michael Reese High School-Hospital initiative
|Students||Increase from 2014 to 2016|
|Complete job shadow||33%|
|Earn certification with economic value||10%|
|Michael Reese program graduates||65%|
|Other CTE graduates||58%|
|Chicago Public School graduates overall||60.3%|
Data drawn from 2019 Summary Evaluation Report, evaluation conducted by Maple Grove Objective.
Percentage of students who plan to continue education
To succeed, we must pay attention to the needs, challenges, and strengths of students and entry-level workers, as well as veterans, immigrants, and refugees with previous healthcare experience. We must also recognize the capabilities and limitations of those who train or support aspiring job candidates and those who hire or promote them. So we work with the Chicago Public Schools to provide background checks and scrubs for CNA students. We work with organizations that increase student success with tutoring, stipends, personal supports, and professional enrichment activities. We work with hospitals who provide critically important opportunities for site visits, job shadows, summer internships, and practicums, as well as essential mentoring and workforce development programs.
Finally, we work with fellow funders, employers, and educators to identify and align the needs and goals of this complex ecosystem and ensure that the pipeline we’re building together will deliver on its promise for all of us.
Providing onsite academic, personal, professional, and financial supports to help scholars stay in school, earn a degree, and launch an upwardly mobile career
Grantee: One Million Degrees
Project: Empowering 30 community college students to pursue healthcare careers at Malcolm X College
Addressing systems gaps in recruitment and skilled employment for adolescents and emerging adults from marginalized communities in Chicago
Grantee: Cook County Health
Project: Cook County Careers in Health Care Program