Project REACH earns national award
The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System is one of nine U.S. health care employers recognized May 15 as a 2014 Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion, an award given by CareerSTAT, an initiative of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions and Jobs for the Future.
According to CareerSTAT, the Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion program was designed to honor health care employers that invest substantially in skill and career development opportunities for their frontline workers, defined as staffers whose jobs require less than an associate’s degree.
Johns Hopkins was recognized for its Project REACH program, aimed at developing the skills and knowledge of frontline employees to fill vacancies and to alleviate urgent personnel shortages. The program began in 2004 as a US Department of Labor grant-funded pilot project. Today, Project REACH is 100 percent funded by Johns Hopkins and has evolved into a comprehensive support network, addressing barriers and supporting academic and professional advancement.
“Since its inception, Project REACH has carried out our commitment and philosophy to ‘grow our own’ employees,” says Ronald R. Peterson, president of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System and executive vice president of Johns Hopkins Medicine. “REACH brings to life Johns Hopkins leadership’s conviction that hardworking employees should be first in line when promotional opportunities arise. And Project REACH has been such a success that we’ve incorporated it into our hospital’s Strategic Plan.”
Project REACH provides Johns Hopkins frontline staff members the opportunity to build basic skills through online coursework in reading, writing, math, English as a second language, basic Spanish and medical terminology. Participants have access to assessments of career interests and aptitudes, as well as career coaching and up to 16 hours per week of paid release time to complete coursework.
The program also refers Johns Hopkins frontline workers to such vital services as child care, elder care and transportation. In addition, Johns Hopkins offers tuition reimbursement, career counseling and other support.
Between July 2011 and June 2013, nearly 100 frontline Johns Hopkins employees participated in hospital-offered skills and career development programs. Nearly two-thirds of participants earned a wage increase, and the other one-third was still in training.
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions, based in Boston, is a national partnership of employers, communities, workers and philanthropy. Together, they invest in more than 30 regional funder collaboratives to strengthen local economies by implementing demand-driven workforce strategies that create talent supply chains, close skill gaps and improve systems.
Jobs for the Future works with its partners to design and drive adoption of education and career pathways leading from college readiness to career advancement for those struggling to succeed in today’s economy.
Other recipients of the first annual Frontline Healthcare Worker Champion award are Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Holy Angels Residential Facility in Shreveport, Louisiana; Norton Healthcare of Louisville, Kentucky; TriHealth of Cincinnati; Cleveland’s University Hospitals; and MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital and LifeBridge Health of Baltimore.
“Through this recognition program, we hope to increase the number of health care employers that invest in the skill and career development of their workforce,” says Jan Hunter, CareerSTAT’s director. “These champion organizations were chosen as they understand the business impact of investing in health care workers and are able to show that investments have led to measurable improvement in employee engagement, reduction in turnover and employee advancement through career pathways.”