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Partners HealthCare and College for America Provide Employees Opportunities for Educational Advancement

Special Advertorial Health Section

Partners HealthCare
Partners HealthCare and College for America Provide Employees Opportunities for Educational Advancement
Pictured here from left to right at Judith’s graduation are: Kathryn Decelles, Career Coach at Partners HealthCare; Nancy Crotty, RN, Clinical Nurse Leader at Spaulding Hospital North Shore (and Judith’s manager); and Judith Crawford, Certified Nursing Assistant at Spaulding Hospital North Shore. (Photo: Partners HealthCare)

Education can play a key role in one’s life—and more specifically in one’s health. Higher educational attainment is associated with higher income and a longer lifespan. That’s why Partners HealthCare is working to ensure that all of its employees have access to a variety of educational opportunities that are well suited to their needs and lifestyles.

One such opportunity in the new partnership between College for America (CfA) of Southern New Hampshire University and Partners HealthCare. CfA works with employers like Partners to help provide employees opportunities for advanced education in ways that work with their schedules.

Judith Crawford is a certified nursing assistant at Spaulding Hospital North Shore, a Partners hospital, and a recent CfA graduate. She is an amazing example of someone who is committed to hard work—both professionally and personally. Emigrating from Jamaica in 2006, Judith came to the United States in search of better career and educational opportunities. As a Partners employee, Judith has developed a great career while also pursuing her educational goals. She has participated in a number of programs offered to Partners employees—from the Online College Preparation Program, to an online 3- credit Medical Terminology college course offered through a partnership with Quinsigamond Community College, and most recently completing her associate’s degree with program.

Judith is one of forty Partners employees who have been participating in the CfA Program. She, like so many others, is familiar with the barriers many adult learners face when pursuing higher education. “As a single parent with a mortgage and other necessary expenses, I couldn’t see any way to obtain my associate’s degree without causing a tremendous financial burden until CfA became a possibility,” says Judith. CfA is designed with the adult learner in mind and tries to eliminate some of the common barriers to higher education—rising costs, family obligations, demands of work and family, etc. The total cost of the program is $2,500 per year for “all you can learn”, which is often covered by employers’ tuition reimbursement plans. It is a highly flexible, self-paced model that allows highly motivated students to complete their degree faster than the average student; Judith completed her associate’s degree in just seven months. The program also meets the needs of those employees who need more time to complete their degree, as it is modularized and adaptable, allowing employees to adjust their pace as needed, when “life gets in the way,” without losing ground.

“These programs have really impacted my life,” says Judith. “When I heard about the program, I knew it was an ideal opportunity for me. By earning my associate’s degree, I have made my family proud—my biggest cheerleader is my seven year old daughter.”

In addition to the financial support and flexibility, the initiative also provides extensive, wraparound support to each of its students. Each student is assigned an online learning coach to help them navigate the program and Partners’ employees also have the benefit of a Partners coach. Kathryn Decelles, Career Coach at Partners HealthCare, coached Judith throughout her pursuit of her associate’s degree. “It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to coach Judith,” says Kathryn. “She is dedicated and determined to making a difference in both her own life and her family’s life—her work in through this program is just one example of that.”

Judith’s pursuit of higher education is far from over; she is now enrolled in the CfA bachelor’s degree program and is pursuing a concentration in health care management. A number of other Partners employees will also continue onto the bachelor’s degree program along with Judith. Because of the success of this first group, the opportunity to participate in the CfA Program is also being extended to all employees across the Partners HealthCare system.

“Having a skilled and well prepared workforce is essential to any company’s success,” says Mary Jane Ryan, Director of Work Force Development, Partners HealthCare. “Through our partnership with College for America, we not only offer our employees the opportunity for academic success and potential career advancement, but we also increase the quality of care we provide by ensuring a well-prepared, dedicated, culturally competent and diverse work force. It’s a remarkable program that pays great dividends for both the employer and employee.”

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