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VCU Health awarded $1M to enhance health care workforce development programs

The U.S. Department of Labor grant will support the expansion of the VCU Health Pathways to Healthcare Workforce, an entry-level job training program at the health system.

Woman at a desk working Since its inception, more than 300 young adults and community members have found job training and employment opportunities through the VCU Health Pathways to Healthcare Workforce program. (Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

By Danielle Pierce

VCU Health received $1 million in federal funding aimed at addressing the shortage of health care workers by enhancing workforce development and pipeline programs.

Secured by Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, Sen. Tim Kaine, and the late Rep. Donald McEachin, the Congressionally Directed Spending, awarded through the Department of Labor, will expand on VCU Health’s current model to build workforce pathways with local high schools, technical centers, and community colleges.

“A shortage of health care workers is putting the well-being of communities across the commonwealth at risk,” Kaine said. “I’m glad to have helped secure federal funding for VCU Health to address this issue by enhancing health care workforce development programs and creating a strong and diverse pipeline of health care workers. As a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I will continue to push for legislation to support health care professionals and help more people enter this crucial field.”

“The past four and a half years have been a testament to the importance of a robust and proficient health care workforce,” Warner said. “I’m thrilled to have helped secure this funding from the federal government to support VCU as it works to serve students pursuing an education in health care.”

"We are deeply grateful to Sens. Warner and Kaine, to the late Rep. McEachin and to Rep. McClellan for their leadership and commitment to developing a strong health care workforce in the commonwealth,” said Marlon Levy, M.D., interim CEO of VCU Health and interim senior vice president of VCU Health Sciences. “Building and maintaining a diverse and robust workforce is critical to address the health care needs of all Virginians.”

Students interested in health care careers often face barriers in finding academic programs or entry level positions, required to complete their degree requirements or achieve licensure. Common barriers include insufficient capacity in provider sites to support clinical rotations, difficulty finding instructors and clinical supervisors, and challenges accessing equipment to complete curriculum requirements.

In 2018, VCU Health developed the Pathways to Healthcare Workforce program to remove some of these obstacles and create a path to entry level jobs and opportunities for advancement.

Since the program’s inception, VCU Health has assisted more than 300 students and community members in securing employment opportunities, demonstrating its commitment to empowering local communities.

“This grant will allow us to expand our current workforce development efforts, reaching even more students and job seekers,” said Sheryl Garland, VCU Health’s chief of health impact. “We will be able to further strengthen our collaboration with community colleges, high schools, technical centers, and community organizations while building a pipeline of diverse health care workers to serve patients throughout Virginia.”

The grant will be distributed as a lump sum and will provide expansion to VCU Health service areas, including Northern Neck and Southside Virginia. The total cost of the Addressing the Health Workforce Shortage through a Community Workforce Continuum project is $1,000,000. 100% of the program is funded through a U.S. Department of Labor – Employment and Training grant.

"We've been able to support community members in the VCU Medical Center service area to pursue career and educational goals,” said Porsha Bennett, VCU Health manager of workforce development and strategies. “With the support of the federal grant our program will grow to include all of the VCU Health service areas and reach more community members, so this is a very exciting moment.”

Read the latest news releases from VCU Health News