Inspiring the Next Generation of Medical Professionals in New Jersey

Jul 06, 2012

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, local teens face the negative externalities of any inner-city community – drugs, violence, teen pregnancy, and lack of positive role models and career opportunities. Yet, in the midst of these challenges, Trinitas Regional Medical Center (Trinitas) is bringing hope to these teens and inspiring the next generation of medical professionals.

Established in January, 2000, Trinitas is a full-service healthcare facility serving those who live and work in Eastern and Central Union County. Committed to being a good community partner, Trinitas also offers a dynamic after-school and summer education program for local youth that includes mentoring on achievable career options, while teaching them the importance of volunteerism and stressing the benefits of staying in school. 

“We’re giving these students examples of what they can be if they stay in school and work hard,” said Nadine Brechner, executive director of the Trinitas Health Foundation. “We’ve seen many teens from families without career options excel and become physicians. We’ve also seen mentoring relationships form through this program that have determined the entire course of a youth’s life. And, there’s a real symbiosis between these youth and the medical center – students that come through the program generally will come back to volunteer or work here in the future.”

Bank of America has been a long-time partner of Trinitas. In addition to providing financial services to the hospital, the bank supports the Health Career Explorers Program, and many Bank of America employees volunteer at the medical center.

“We would not have our career exploration program if it wasn’t for Bank of America,” continues Bechner. “We are an inner-city hospital with a very high charity care rate, we don’t have the money to run a program like this.”

Approximately 160 students each year participate in the medical mentoring, summer nursing camp and student volunteer programs. All three programs give students direct exposure to career opportunities in healthcare before they enter college or the workforce.

Jasmine Montes, a local college student who grew up in Elizabeth and attended these programs, is currently volunteering at Trinitas while studying to become a pediatrician. According to Jasmine, “Elizabeth’s a really hard city to grow up in. The program helped open our eyes to the realization that we can get work. We can pursue a career, become somebody and actually help the community in return.” 

“At Bank of America, we are looking to meet the greatest needs in the community through the programs we support,” said Etta Denk, market development manager, Bank of America. “As we navigate a very unstable economic climate, we know that youth are disproportionately affected by unemployment. By providing area youth with a livable wage career path in a field that is as dynamic as healthcare, we believe that we are able to have the greatest long-term impact on the local community.”

“We’ve seen first-hand many wonderful success stories where teens who attended the programs have gone on to pursue medical careers and then come back to work at Trinitas,” continued Denk. 

“The outcomes speak for themselves,” said Brechner. “With support from Bank of America, this program is helping to break the cycle of poverty in our community.”   

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