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UMass Donahue Institute helps guide Valley students on health careers

The UMass Donahue Institute is leading a program called the Pioneer Valley Health Careers Opportunity Program. The program intends to create a health career workforce that reflects the racial and ethnic characteristics of the region.  It aims to meet future needs for health care workers in the Valley, as well as help high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds find and succeed in associate’s and bachelor’s programs in the health field.

Targeted occupations include dental hygienists, surgical technologists, blood bank technicians, histology technicians, health information specialists, community health educators, public health policy advocates, dietitians, nutritionists, and physical therapists.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has provided $600,000 of funding for the first year.  Joining in on this effort are UMASS, Springfield College, Springfield Technical Community College, Holyoke and Greenfield Community Colleges, the workforce investment board of Hampden County and Franklin/Hampshire County, Baystate Health Systems, Sisters of Providence Health Systems and Holyoke Health Center.

"This is an impressive collaboration of institutions from Springfield to Greenfield. We are pleased to be part of this critical partnership," said Lynn Griesemer, executive director of the UMass Donahue Institute. Public schools in Hampden County and the Franklin County Technical High School are taking part in the program.  "Even in this tight economy, we need to be thinking about future workforce needs and helping guide people into promising career opportunities," said Kelly Aiken of the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County

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