By Wendy Sarubbi | September 17, 2013 10:51 am

“What we’re doing here today means jobs and opportunity for the city of Orlando.”

With that quote, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, the UCF College of Medicine and other community leaders announced a partnership designed to increase job opportunities in healthcare for Orlando’s neediest residents.

On September 6, Dyer, District 5 City Commissioner Daisy Lynum, College of Medicine Dean Deborah German and other Medical City leaders introduced the Orlando Medical Careers Partnership Program, designed to engage Orlando residents from elementary school through adulthood. Called “Science for Success,” the partnership will help West Orlando residents be competitive candidates for work in Medical City, which is expected to create 30,000 jobs and $7.8 billion in annual economic activity by the year 2017, Mayor Dyer said.

Through its “Health Leaders” pipeline program, the College of Medicine has already started that effort. In 2011, the college began its first pipeline initiative with Jones High School’s Medical Arts Magnet Program as a commitment to prepare underserved students for healthcare careers. The effort is led by Dr. Lisa Barkley, a board-certified physician in family medicine, adolescent medicine and sports medicine who also serves as assistant dean for diversity and inclusion. The program has now been expanded to Orlando’s Memorial Middle School and to high schools in Osceola County.

“We talk about how it takes a village to create change, and Health Leaders shows the power of a UCF village,” Dr. German said at the city announcement. For the past two years, faculty and graduate students from the UCF College of Education have helped Jones students improve their study, time management and critical thinking skills. Dr.  Barkley and medical students have taught the students how to do scientific research. And for the past two summers, the medical school has held a Health Leaders Summer Camp where students work in labs at the medical school’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. They analyze strains of bacteria, identify a crime suspect using microbiology and study anatomy to learn how things like strokes damage the brain. In the process, they learn the variety of careers available in healthcare, how to prepare for those jobs and how to become health leaders of tomorrow.

Other community, healthcare and educational leaders are joining those efforts as part of the Orlando Medical Careers Partnership Program:

  •  Orlando Tech and Valencia College have enrolled 10 nursing students into a joint two-year program for both LPN and RN educations. Valencia is providing tutoring with professors and a dedicated full-time counselor for the students. Workforce Central Florida has donated $40,000 to cover the costs of the customized training.
  • Nemours Children’s Hospital is offering shadowing opportunities, workshops and other training for students to help them better understand the healthcare job market and succeed in areas such as resume writing and interviewing.
  • Starting this school year, the FSU College of Medicine’s Orlando campus will offer an elective college prep class for Jones students. The program will include after-school activities, individualized tutoring; parent meetings and mentoring from premedical and medical students.
  •  Commissioner Lynum has committed $100,000 in funding to provide a science teacher for the 2013-2014 year for two Orlando elementary schools – Rock Lake and Orange Center.

 As Dr. Falecia Williams, president of Valencia’s West Campus, explained, these efforts will create “partnerships and pathways for citizens to achieve their dreams.”

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