Internship Program Prepares Students for Careers in Community Health as State Grapples with Health Workforce Crisis
LOS ANGELES—June 5, 2023—This summer, 29 undergraduate health-professions students are participating in the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County’s (CCALAC) inaugural cohort of the Allied Health Internship Program (AHIP), a workforce initiative to develop the next generation of allied health professionals. As part of the program, interns receive paid hands-on training to prepare for careers in community health.
The AHIP is possible thanks to generous support from Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, California Area Health Education Center, and Cedars-Sinai. Funding covers the internship stipends and administrative support for participating health centers.
“California is experiencing an unprecedented health workforce crisis as demand for workers continues to outpace supply,” said CCALAC President and CEO Louise McCarthy. “This crisis is especially acute for nonprofit community health centers, which are mission-driven to address health disparities in their communities. In Los Angeles, these health centers serve 1.89 million residents a year, the majority of whom are publicly insured or uninsured.”
CCALAC created the AHIP to build a pipeline of diverse professionals to fill roles that are critical to the delivery of care. The program is designed to expose interns to community health, develop their skills, and help them build connections that promote mentorship and peer networking. All interns expressed a desire to serve under-resourced communities.
Students span multiple generations, from ages 18 to 49, and are majoring in allied health and health sciences at colleges and vocational schools across Los Angeles County. More than a third are pursuing a bachelor’s or associate degree, a quarter are studying medical assisting and another quarter are training to become phlebotomists. Twenty-five percent are majoring in or pursuing licensure in multiple areas of study. Nearly all interns identify as either Asian or Pacific Islander, Black or African-American, Hispanic, or Latinx.
Over the course of five to six weeks, students will complete a paid 100-hour internship at 15 health centers in Los Angeles County. They will work approximately 10-25 hours per week in areas such as medical, dental and nurse assisting; phlebotomy; health education; pharmacy; administration; health information technology; and substance use disorder services.
“Inclusivity and social justice rest at the heart of my personal values. My desire to participate in the Allied Health Internship Program stems from my dedication to these convictions,” said Ava Boehm, an AHIP intern pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Language and Power at UCLA. “Growing up in Los Angeles, I have spent the entirety of my life immersed in this city’s incredible diversity which is unfortunately accompanied by significant social inequities. I see this program as a remarkable opportunity to use my education to give back to the communities that raised me, and I am honored to contribute to such impactful community health work.”
Upon completion of the program, interns may receive an offer of employment, depending on their host site’s needs. CCALAC will recognize all interns who complete the program during an award ceremony at the end of the summer.
“Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan is proud to support CCALAC’s efforts to boost the number of diverse community-health workers in Los Angeles County,” said Kristen Cerf, CEO and President of Blue Shield Promise Health Plan. “Community-health workers are critical to helping Medi-Cal members prevent or manage disease and disability and live longer and happier lives. When the healthcare workforce reflects the communities it serves, we know it reduces health inequities and can improve health outcomes.”
“Community health centers are committed to building the next generation of health care workers that will help them effectively and compassionately care for the communities they serve,” said McCarthy. “We’re thankful for our funders who made it possible to launch this program and hope that more funders will recognize the importance of investing in health care workforce solutions like the AHIP.”
About the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County
Founded in 1994, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County (CCALAC) is the largest regional association of community health centers in California. Health centers in Los Angeles serve more than 1.89 million patients at over 380 sites across the county. The majority of these patients (75%) have low incomes, and 92% are covered by public insurance or uninsured. CCALAC is dedicated to helping health centers remain at the forefront of health care transformation, in support of the patients and communities they serve. For more information about CCALAC, visit www.ccalac.org or call (213) 201-6500.
About Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan
Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan is a managed care organization, wholly owned by Blue Shield of California, offering Medi-Cal. It is led by healthcare professionals with a “members-first” philosophy and committed to building a quality network of providers and partnering with community organizations for more than 537,618 members across Los Angeles and San Diego counties. For more information about Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan, please visit www.blueshieldca.com/promise. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please. For more news about Blue Shield of California, please visit www.news.blueshieldca.com. Or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook
Taryn Burks, Communications Specialist
Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County
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Blue Shield of California Promise Health Plan
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