AC JosepH Media

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIPAtlantiCare and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the nation’s first historically black college or university (HBCU), are enhancing their partnership aimed at expanding student learning and career opportunities originally signed in January.

They also aim to create a more diversified workforce and to achieve greater health equity in communities across the region and healthcare in general.

Representing AtlantiCare’s first formal agreement with an HBCU, the partnership includes a series of opportunities AtlantiCare is hosting for Cheyney students through August 2023.

The two organizations made the announcement during a ceremony at AtlantiCare’s Medical Arts Pavilion in Atlantic City on Jan. 10.

The ceremony, which took place during National Mentoring Month, started with leaders from both organizations welcoming 25 Cheyney Life Sciences and Technology students. These juniors and seniors have volunteered to spend a week of their winter break participating in a unique immersive learning opportunity with the AtlantiCare team.

“Our shared goals include enhancing learning and career opportunities for Cheyney students,” said Lori Herndon, AtlantiCare president and CEO, said in a statement. “Our AtlantiCare team is committed to mentoring these students, introducing them to opportunities, and helping them make connections for healthcare and other careers.

“We make sure diversity, equity, and inclusion are part of everything we do in caring for our community. This includes making sure our care team represents the patients we serve.”

Equipping Students

Aaron Walton, the president of Cheyney, said the goal of any of its collaboration efforts is to equip students to become future leaders in the profession they are studying and pursuing.

“These partnerships are benefiting our entire academic community, allowing students and educators to utilize these opportunities to create new career pathways — on and off the campus, Walton said. “Bringing industry leaders to our campus and providing avenues for students to access off-campus partners, like AtlantiCare, allow students to engage and acquire skills for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Students Share Stories

During the January event, several students shared moving stories about why they are interested in healthcare careers.

“One of my career aspirations is to go to medical school to become a physician,” said Mohamedanwar Idress, a junior at Cheyney majoring in biology with a pre-medicine concentration.

“I hope to specialize in surgery. Being in this immersive experience at AtlantiCare, I’ll receive insights about being in the medical field and get a better understanding of what it truly means to be a physician. Being able to visit different departments will allow me to explore different specialties.”

Herndon presented each student with a starfish to conclude the ceremony. She explained that AtlantiCare embraces Loren Eiseley’s “The Star Thrower” story as a symbol of their commitment to delivering health and healing to all people — one person at a time — through trusting relationships.

“This partnership brings the best of what Cheyney is all about to the best of what AtlantiCare is all about,” said Herndon. “What matters to each of us as leaders in healthcare and education is that this is a great kickoff to what we hope will be a long relationship.”

New Experiences

AtlantiCare has committed the resources and people to ensure the winter session is fully immersive and offers students a well-rounded look at various paths they can pursue in healthcare, as well as real-world observations and clinical experiences.

Education for the week of January 9-13 includes rotations with healthcare professionals at AtlantiCare’s Regional Medical Center (ARMC) Atlantic City Campus, as well as at its newly opened Medical Arts Pavilion and the William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex — also in Atlantic City.

The approximately 30 different areas and roles students will learn about include Emergency Services, AtlantiCare’s Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Family Medicine and Pediatric clinics, Intensive Care Unit, Medical Lab Sciences, Neurosciences Institute, Nursing, Operating Room, Orthopaedics, Pediatric, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Surgical Services, Regional Trauma Center, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy and support services, and more.

Students began the week on Monday, January 9 with an orientation and overview at the medical center. They will tour and meet with care team members through Thursday.

They’ll end the week Friday with a sharing experience. AtlantiCare hosted a virtual meet-and-greet for the students in December. There they met with AtlantiCare leaders to discuss their career goals and what they hoped to learn during the immersion experience.

At least one student has an aspiration to work internationally. By providing students with these experiences, AtlantiCare and Cheyney support regional economies by paving the way for steady employment and ensuring critical healthcare positions have a pipeline of dedicated, qualified candidates.

“The exposure Cheyney University students are gaining this week is essential to the development of their identity as healthcare professionals and to positioning them for employment in healthcare settings while they continue their training for healthcare careers,” Vanessa Atkins, executive director, Strategic Partnerships and Career Pathways, Cheyney University.

Christian Ragland photo courtesy of AtlantiCare.

Christian Ragland, assistant vice president DEI, AtlantiCare, evoked the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to capture the vision of the enhanced partnership.

“Dr. King said, ‘Make a career of humanity.’ I believe we are doing what Dr. King encouraged,” said Ragland. “AtlantiCare and Cheyney University are partnering to guide these future healthcare professionals in making a career out of humanity while empowering these students to commit to achieving true health equity and a diverse workforce.

“We are creating career pathways to enhance the journeys of Cheyney University students today and in the future.”

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