Alameda Health System’s (AHS) senior leadership team is helping to attract, develop and mentor a new generation of diverse health care workers by sharing their time, passion and personal career path stories.
As part of HealthPATH’s pilot internship program, On-Ramp to Health Careers, 18 community college students recently had the opportunity to attend an AHS leadership panel discussion hosted by Jessica Pitt, Executive Director of HealthPATH.
The leadership panel included Chief Information Officer Mark Amey, Chief Administrative Officer of post-acute services, Richard Espinoza, President of AHS board of trustees Dr. Taft Bhuket, and Vice President of Population Health, Dr. Mini Swift.
Each AHS leader brought their unique perspectives and stories about pursuing a career in health care. As a woman of color, intern Josselin Lopez who attends Merritt College in Oakland was particularly moved by the panel conversation.
Lopez shared, “I come from a family of immigrants and when I go home to my community, I am pretty much alone on my journey to become a health care professional,” she said. “This internship inspires me because I will be able to interact with AHS staff who are actually doing the work that supports patient care.” Currently, Lopez has her sights set on a career as a midwife and even thought the program has just begun, she credits her participation in HealthPATH in helping to start sharpening her focus and in building her confidence in a hospital workplace setting.
On-Ramp to Health Careers was specifically created because Pitt and her team saw that community college students were being passed over for internships. “At AHS we’re trying to level the playing field by giving community college students the skills to compete with students from more elite colleges for coveted spots in more advanced AHS internship programs this summer,” said Pitt.
She also shares that a key priority for this program and all HealthPATH programs is to open the doors to the possibility of careers in health care for students in diverse and underserved communities. Ultimately, this program is working to reduce disparities in health care by laying the foundation and cultivating talent for health care providers that mirror the community AHS serves.
The six-month internship program offers invaluable education, experience and career exposure for students currently attending Merritt or Chabot community colleges and who are interested in health care careers. Educational pipeline programs, like On-Ramp to Health Careers, play a vital role in increasing the diversity of health professions, addressing educational opportunity gaps and reducing disparities.
Intern Anthony Wong, a student at Chabot College found the leadership panel a morale booster. “Hearing from the AHS leaders motivates me to keep striving toward my career goals no matter what others may say.” Currently, Wong is focused on becoming either an educator or a surgeon or maybe both.
The ultimate goal of this program and all AHS HealthPATH programs is to support our mission of caring, healing, teaching and serving all by cultivating the next generation of health care workers who come from underserved communities.
Panelist Espinoza left the interns with some inspiring advice, “Follow your passion, find out what you really like to do, and then strive to be the best at it,” he said. “Also, it’s OK if your voice is different than others in the room, it’s what makes each of us unique and allow us to contribute to the greater whole, and ultimately the greater good.”
For more information about the On-Ramp to Health Careers program and other AHS HealthPATH intern programs visit: