The Philanthropy Collaborative

Regional Case Studies

New York Alliance for Careers in Health Care
New York City

When it comes to finding people good jobs, the health care industry provides a wide range of opportunities. As one of the few industries where jobs were added during the recession, the health care sector has job openings up and down the career ladder, providing plenty of opportunities for advancement. Employment in the health care sector has steadily climbed since 2007, adding 1.4 million jobs from the beginning of 2007 through the end of 2011, and adding 282,000 jobs over the past year alone. In January 2012 alone, health care employment rose by an astonishing 31,000 jobs.

In addition, the sector is preparing for exponential growth once health care reform is fully implemented in 2014. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' annual employment projections report, the health care and social assistance sector will gain more than 5.6 million jobs from 2010 to 2020, more than any other sector in the U.S. That, combined with the existing shortage of primary care doctors and nurses, means there is a pressing need for health care workers that are both technically competent and flexible enough to function within the new service models developing over the next few years.

"Our program," said Jennie Tsang Quinn, executive director of the New York Alliance for Careers in Health Care, "is unique because we're starting with the employer perspective. Why start anywhere else? They know what they need, and we are working to get them exactly that."

Created by the New York City Innovation Fund, a collaborative of the New York City Workforce Development Funders Group and the New York City Department of Small Business Services, the Alliance, Tsang-Quinn notes, has union, non-profit, academic, industry associations and employer partners - everyone is at the table. "We all share the same goal - high quality care for patients," she said. "And everyone in the healthcare field is being asked to adjust very quickly to new delivery models. We want to make sure our workers and jobseekers are ready."

The program's fresh, new approach to meeting the needs of employers in advance reflects the freedom of non-profits unrivaled in the public or for-profit, private sector. In April, the Alliance will launch one of its first projects - post-graduate training for a class of 25 registered nurses who have been out of work for at least six months after graduating from a four-year nursing program. The six-month curriculum, developed with the help of clinical professionals, industry associations, and academia, will help position the graduates for jobs after completing the course.

"This is basically a nurse residency course aligned with national recommendations, including those from the Institute of Medicine," said Tsang-Quinn. "We asked the employers what they needed to make sure that they had a workforce that could work for them from the moment they were hired, and we followed that guidance. At the end of the program, these nurses will be competitive for open vacancies and ready to take on roles within the care team."

The program is small, but Tsang-Quinn is enthusiastic about the possibility to expand it once the initial pilot is completed. "A lot of people have been working on this," she said. "It's a real opportunity to improve provider education and patient care and better prepare nurses to take on leadership roles on newly developed care teams."

Tsang-Quinn says foundation support has made the work of the Alliance possible. "Foundations have been incredibly progressive on seeding innovative healthcare initiatives. Given how labor intensive the sector is, foundation backing has developed many new, more focused areas of workforce training. It took our country a long time to get to healthcare reform and the philanthropic world has been instrumental in advancing the work. Without their support, this program couldn't succeed."

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