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Healthcare companies and community colleges create career paths

DaVita partners with Colorado community colleges to address healthcare staffing challenges.

DENVER — Colorado healthcare employer DaVita has partnered with other major healthcare employers in the state and local community colleges to create an equitable career path for underserved students.

The Colorado Health Careers Collaborative Academy is a six-week program that introduces young adults ages 16-24 to various roles in health care. The goal is to create a pathway for students who would otherwise not have access to these types of opportunities and address staffing challenges in the industry due to the COVID pandemic.

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“Right now in healthcare, we face a myriad of challenges that have not been seen in a lifetime,” said Kenny Gardner, chief human resources officer at DaVita. “We wanted to introduce a lot of students to the world of healthcare, but ultimately bring them to the doorsteps of organizations like ours to then also be on the path to having a long-term career, not just a use.”

DaVita released a recent report that predicts Colorado will be short of 54,000 healthcare workers by 2026.

To address staffing challenges, DaVita has partnered with Centura Health, HealthONE, Community College of Denver (CCD), and Arapahoe Community College (ACC) to create an equitable healthcare career path from employment education for underserved students. This includes students from communities of color, first-generation students, and LGBTQ students.

“For students who have never thought of a career in healthcare, our vision for them is to put it in front of them, to inspire them, to give them the tools and resources to get into a company like DaVita. “, said Gardner. “[Also] to get that first job, and to have the ladders and the programs, the advocacy and the sponsorship of their talents to take them as far as they can go.

The program introduces students to occupations such as nursing (RPN/RN), medical assisting, medical laboratory science (CNA/phlebotomy), and radiological technology, while providing students with vocational skills such as interviews and resume writing. Skills that Rita Kbayli, a sophomore at Eagle Crest High School, says will help her in her pursuit of a medical degree.

“I could choose to go into nursing or surgery or criminology… so many different things because healthcare is a whole other world,” Kbayli said. “It’s good to learn it now as a sophomore in high school before going out into the real world and trying to get a job.”

The collaboration aims to help more academy students apply for higher education programs and entry-level healthcare jobs. The program’s ACC program manager, Bri Barnes-Eldert, said the goal is to diversify the workforce within Colorado’s healthcare industry.

“As we know right now, that’s not something that’s happening right now,” Barnes-Eldert said. “So making sure that our students have the opportunity to show up and show others in the communities behind them that they can be there, and that they can be successful and support people like them in the hospital or the clinical setting.”

Gardner said the collaboration hopes the program will help underserved students find employment in the health care sector as part of their commitment to diversity and belonging.

“We thought it was important to make a difference in the world around us,” Gardner said. “But we wanted to do it in a way that we thought was unique.”

For more information, click here: or the Colorado Health Careers Collaborative Academy website.

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