Geriatrics Career Development

Challenge:

In 2006, the New Jewish Home created a Geriatrics Career Development program (GCD) for high school students to increase the number of young people exposed to the field of aging services and train them to work in their community. The program was in response to the shortage of geriatricians and others— along with the increase in the aging population. The GCD was consistent with its mission to connect with partners in the New York City area to develop the next generation of workers in aging services. In 2014, GCD expanded its services to serve out of school/out of work young adults aged 18-24.

Solution:

The New Jewish Home partnered with Columbia University Teacher’s College to develop a comprehensive program on elder care fundamentals, which provides students with the opportunity to receive one of 5 healthcare certifications after graduation from high school. After developing the curriculum, the New Jewish Home worked closely with high schools to attract students into the program for work in the aging services and medical fields. The Young Adult program works with local community based organizations in NYC to serve youth, 18-24, who may have dropped out of high school, are not currently attending school, or who have immediate employment needs.  

Implementation Details:

The GCD High School program is a comprehensive three-year program for high school students that uses a combination of classroom and hands-on learning to put them on a track to receive certification in 5 jobs: Certified Nursing Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Phlebotomy, EKG, Medical Coding and Billing. As a large community, the New Jewish Home trains 200 high schoolers annually in 22 skills, such as vitals, transport, infection control, etc., to qualify for CNA certification in New York. The program also includes information on career coaching, college readiness, and general health careers. Students are assigned a mentor. The community provides support following graduation from the program, such as alumni events, networking opportunities, and job referral services. The Young Adult program is a 10-12 week program that professionally develops, clinically trains through an internship, and certifies young adults in either a Home Health Aide or CNA capacity. These individuals will immediately join the workforce upon completion of the program. 

The GCD program starts with a presentation to high school leaders and community based partners to provide information about the program. If a school/organization decides to participate, both the New Jewish Home and the high school/organization sign a partnership agreement to ensure that expectations are clear on both sides. Then, the New Jewish Home does a presentation to interested students. Students who decide to participate must receive a parent’s or legal guardian’s consent. Young Adults must make themselves available for 10 weeks, be between the ages of 18-24, and live in the NYC area to be eligible.

The high school program takes place 2 days a week after school for 3-4 hours per day each semester with internships at the New Jewish Home during each summer. The time period includes both classroom time and work on the floor. During the final summer, students take a course at a local college on an Allied Healthcare Certification Course - training in the above areas - which is usually a CNA program. In New York, the community has used funding from the state to pay for this class, along with money from state nutrition programs to reimburse meals and summer internships.

A nurse at the unit schedules the twice-weekly sessions and students work both individually and together as groups. Students sign in and sign out of each session. The Young Adult program takes place 4 days a week for 6 hours each day for a 10-12 week period, 3 times per year. This time period includes multiple phases from professional development through transition to permanent employment. 

Factors for Success:

  • Have patience and the desire to welcome a young person into the community and expose them to a nursing facility.
  • Seek out students who enjoy time with grandparents and market the program as an opportunity to engage with older people.
  • Provide a designated meeting space for the training and/or homework.
  • Offer them a meal if possible.
  • Understand that students may need support, such as money for public transportation to and from the program.

Outcomes:

  • 90% of GCD graduates are working or enrolled in school. About 15% are hired by The New Jewish Home because they end up attending college having been exposed to the program. Students are employed immediately after high school and can continue to work part-time if they choose to go to college.
  • 600+ certifications have been earned since 2006.
  • 85% of GCD students who take the New York CNA exam have passed the test.
  • 100% of Young Adult participants have passed the HHA exam and now are certified.
  • 99% of all students enrolled in the GCD high school program graduated from high school in four years.
  • Many students have gone on to college; in fact, after exposure to the program, some have gone on to get further education in nursing, pharmacy, occupational therapy, to name a few.
  • Annually, the New Jewish Home has between 60-75 high school and 40 Young Adult graduates at a cost of $1.4 million per year. However, this cost is scalable for smaller organizations based on the number of students. The GCD is a comprehensive program that provides transportation, food, and stipends, which is about $6,000 per student. This figure can be brought down in a number of different ways: it can be a one-day a week program or it can be over a shorter period of time, such as 1 or 2 years rather than 3. The Young Adult program could be a more immediate transition from trainee to employee in as little as 10 weeks. 

Need more information?

Contact John Cruz, program director, Geriatrics Career Development at The New Jewish Home.