Twenty high school graduates in lime green scrubs celebrated the completion of a summer internship program this week that prepared them for jobs as phlebotomist and patient care technicians.
Pima County One-Stop Career Center, Tucson Medical Center, the Pima County Joint Technical Education District (JTED) and Tucson Youth Development began partnering in 2004 to make the program possible and have seen nearly 150 young people complete it, TMC’s chief operating officer, Linda Wojtowicz, told the interns Thursday at a celebration of their achievement.
Of those, 90 percent are still working in health care, said Arnold Palacios, executive director of the nonprofit Tucson Youth Development.
“We’ve already started to graduate registered nurses who were part of this program,” he said.
Wojtowicz thanked TMC’s partners in the program. “Without this, this hospital would not be able to serve the people we do,” she said.
“You have all been exposed to careers you would not have been exposed to otherwise. … You make a difference in the lives of patients. They remember your name. You have an opportunity many people don’t have.”
In the GO! (Great Opportunities) Program, students take JTED courses to become certified nursing assistants before participating in training funded by Pima County One-Stop and paid internships funded by Tucson Youth Development.
Vaughn Croft, chair of the Pima County Workforce Investment Board Youth Council, reminded the interns that 2008 JTED and GO! Program alumnus Daniel Hernandez Jr. is credited with saving the life of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords when she shot on Jan. 8, 2011, on Tucson’s Northwest Side.
“You never know where theses skills are going to lead you,” he said.
Beth Francis, TMC’s health careers coordinator, said most of the interns have already been offered jobs at TMC.
Gabriella Savorilla, a 20-year-old patient care technician at TMC, praised the program she went through two years ago.
“We got in for free,” she said. “We got college credit.”
Savorilla is getting ready to pursue studies to become a registered nurse.