Young adults with chronic illnesses and disabilities may be referred to the Career Path program at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Career Path works to train and place these young adults into competitive positions all across the Hospital. Most of these candidates have not yet gone to college or had the opportunity to earn any employment experience, so this program is an important resource in their preparation for adulthood. Career Path is staffed by a vocational counselor, job coach, social worker and physical, occupations and speech therapists. The team helps train these young adults for the workplace through group sessions, coaching, and individual support that teach real life work skills.
Workplace Training for Young Adults With Disabilities: CHOP Career Path
Narrator: Since 2007, the Career Path Program has been working to train and place young adults with chronic illnesses and/or disabilities, into competitive employment positions through The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. These young people, between the ages of 17 and 22 have not yet attended college, or had opportunities in their community to experience employment.
The Career Path team, comprised of a vocational counselor, job coach, social worker, and physical, occupational, and speech therapists, helps prepare these young adults for working in the world through skills and interest exploration, internships, group sessions, and individual coaching and support.
Jarell Smith, supply chain tech: Going through the Career Path, that was good. At first I didn’t think I could do it, but then I was like, “I’m gonna give it a shot. I’m gonna try this and see how it goes and everything.” But all the help with Allison, and Jamie, and [unclear] and all of them really helped me get through this. And Symme their boss has helped me out too.
Kevin Exil, occupational therapy aide: Yeah, I went to one of my job coaches, I went to Jamie. We talked, and I told her, you know, I feel like I can do better. I can, you know, clean an office or somewhere, and I feel more comfortable doing that. And she did. So it taught me good at the end and I just loved it after that. It just opened a lot of doors for me, you know, at CHOP.
Narrator: The Career Path Program doesn’t just take anyone. Individuals who are referred to the program, are evaluated and interviewed by the team on their skills and strengths, work preparedness and challenges. Those accepted into the program have set goals outlined and work as interns in the various departments of the organization. They learn real-life work skills needed to maintained competitive employment, and succeed at CHOP.
Julie Buxton, occupational therapy manager: I think one of the things that’s most impressive about the Career Path Program and the patients that we see is that often times the team leaders and the staff will say, “This is like really the core of OT. This is like the essence of what occupational therapy is.” And looking at transitioning kids, young adults, into you know, more of a pre-vocational setting. So it’s really kind of, it’s a definition of occupational therapy.
Narrator: The goal of working with a job coach, attending group sessions, and being actively engaged, is to help maximize the participant’s effectiveness and independence on the job so they can successfully maintain their position.
Jarell Smith: This is the best place to work. And I just love what I do, I love seeing everybody, all my old nurses and everything. Because I was a patient here a while ago. And I just love seeing everybody.
Charles Rawlings, supply chain tech: I look up to them and they look up to me. It felt good to be, you know, for them to depend on me to do this, and do that. And I’m pretty sure, I know for a fact, they look for me to come here every day, five days a week. But you know, because if I don’t, you know, I feel like I let my teammates down you know. And that’s not what I’m here to do, I’m here to, you know, try to do the best I can when I can do it.
Narrator: Beyond helping grow and develop program participants, the Career Path Program has far reaching benefits seen across the organization. The program provided opportunities for departments to explore and pilot new roles and programs by utilizing interns. Filling opened positions with seasoned interns who are already part of CHOP’s culture saves time and money.
Chris Coforio, director of supply chain logistics: They have a different awareness of the kinds of care that we provide here because most of them have been patients. They definitely talk a lot about their experiences. I think they have a connection with the staff that we, in supply chain, serve. So I think it adds a familiarity between us and the clinicians that we work with, because they see some of their former patients down here in supply chain. So I think that’s been really nice.
Alan Schleeper, materials distribution manager: The Career Path folks feel the buy-in that they’re also providing a service to us, they’ll get more of meaningful experience with us. And hopefully be able to use that in their own career path, but also in attracting other people to follow in their footsteps.
Narrator: The dedicated effort and hard work put forth by these employees and participants of the Career Path Program have helped to make The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation. And the 2012 Exemplary Employer for PA, as designated by the Department of Labor, and industry’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation.