Setting the Stage for Better Health

Internships give college students experience in healthcare careers

Coachella Valley Economic Partnership/Health Career Connection interns (left to right) Anthony Lee, Jesse Espinoza and Danielle Thoene at Desert Blood Services in La Quinta.

Chris Miller Imagine Imagery


Another 21 college students completed a 10-week internship in healthcare-oriented companies this summer through the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership and the nonprofit Health Career Connection Internship Program.

CVEP’s Healthcare Industry Council and HCC created the program with the goal of growing a pipeline of local students to fill high-level healthcare jobs and leadership positions in the Coachella Valley.

“It’s a chance for us to get exposure to the health field,” says Danielle Thoene, a sophomore at UCLA and a HCC summer intern at CVEP’s Rabobank Regional Business Center. “We have people from all over the country who grew up in the Coachella Valley. We get to see public health from a different perspective.”

The interns represent a variety of majors, from accounting to chemistry. “I’m in environmental science,” Thoene says. “I meet a lot of people in renewable energy, and I’m looking at working in environmental health.”

Host employers this year included FIND Food Bank, Planned Parenthood, Health Assessment Resource Center, Eisenhower Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Desert Blood Services, Raices Cultura, the office of Congressman Raul Ruiz, and Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo.

Sheila Thornton, CVEP vice president of Workforce Excellence, reports that the growing, four-year-old internship program has already produced results.

“Twenty-two local healthcare organizations have hosted 60 local undergraduate students in high-quality, full-time, paid internships since 2010,” she says. “It demonstrates a strong commitment to building a top-quality healthcare workforce.

“This group of students now has a deeper understanding of key community health needs and how they, as aspiring healthcare professionals and leaders, can shape the future of healthcare in the Coachella Valley,” Thornton continues.

HCC offers internship programs around the country. Last year, more than 1,600 students applied for 150 positions.

“Everyone needs to step up and empower the next generation of health leaders,” says HCC President Jeffrey Oxendine, who adds that 70 percent of student participants are offered full-time employment after they complete their internships.

VIDEO: Watch interviews with leaders in healthcare and economic development, and a student success story from participating in the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership Health Career Connection Internship Program.


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