The MCTC News Blog

MinnPost: How Innovative Programs are Opening Pathways to Good Healthcare Jobs for Inner-City Youth

Posted on: October 6th, 2015 by insidemctc No Comments

Twin Cities healthcare partnerships highlight the importance of collaboration in support of the goal of diversifying Minnesota’s STEM workforce. A recent article from MinnPost illustrates Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s participation in one of these healthcare partnerships.

The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is a collaboration between a dozen colleges and hospitals along the Central Corridor between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, which account for 67,000 employees. This partnership is also behind the Central Corridor College Fellows Partnership (C3 Fellows), which since 2014 has helped more than 100 students land full or part-time jobs in the healthcare field while still in school. The program is open to all students from Minneapolis and St. Paul majoring in healthcare-related fields at Saint Paul College and MCTC.

Since most students at two-year colleges must work in order to afford tuition, this represents a significant benefit, says MCTC Vice President Mike Christenson. “They are getting a résumé boost in their intended field along with a big bump in pay. Workstudy students average $9.50 an hour, while C3 fellows make $14.44 on average in their field of study. This is important for students who might otherwise leave college for economic reasons. It’s a big win for wage and career at once.”

The story is posted in its entirety below.

How innovative programs are opening pathways to good health-care jobs for inner-city youth

By Jay Walljasper, published to Minnpost Oct. 2, 2015

On a summer morning, a gaggle of high school kids of all races and economic backgrounds swarm onto the Augsburg College campus in Minneapolis’ Cedar-Riverside neighborhood at an uncharacteristically early hour.

They are here to be transformed — literally, as short pants, long African print skirts, T-shirts and summer tops disappear beneath maroon-colored medical scrubs. Almost immediately, adolescent antics subside and the noise volume plummets. Looks of serious curiosity cross many students’ faces.

The April 2015 Career Expo at Minneapolis Community & Technical College.

MCTC’s April 2015 Career Expo. (Photo from MinnPost.)

Welcome to Urban Scrubs Camp 2015, a weeklong immersion in health-care careers attended by 76 students in early July. Fifty-seven more students attended another scrubs camp at Saint Paul College later in the month. At both camps, young people got firsthand experience about what it’s like to work in the health-care field from real-life professionals and college instructors.

Two hours into their day, in one of Augsburg’s science classrooms, scrubs campers are learning lab procedures about glucose levels, blood cell counts, toxicology and blood types. This is not only hands-on learning; it’s surgical-gloves-on learning.

Maia Maiden, Medical Lab Technician Program coordinator at Rasmussen College, shows them how to use a dropper to apply urine samples onto glass slides for a toxicology study, stressing there is no room for error.  “If I report to the doctor that someone has cocaine in their system, there will be some consequences if I am wrong,” she explains.

Maiden tells students that a B.S. degree opened the door to her first job as medical lab technician at Hennepin County Medical Center. She then asks about their own career aspirations.  “I want to be a pharmacist,” pipes up one student, followed by … “a surgeon”… “a nurse”… an anesthesiologist.” One young woman who has been quiet until now, answers,  “I’m thinking your job must be fun and interesting.”

Students at the Urban Scrubs camp got a feel for emergency medical services, holistic nursing, veterinary medicine, behavioral health, physical therapy, and many other careers in sessions held at Augsburg, St. Catherine University and the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview.  Students at the Saint Paul College camp took part in simulated births, diagnostic detection, medical device research, the placebo effect and visited Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and Health East Emergency Medical Services.

“Many of our students were not aware that some of these jobs even existed before coming to camp,” says Tracy Wilson, director of Workforce Training and Continuing Education at Saint Paul College.

Attendees at both camps are a diverse bunch. Augsburg’s campers are approximately one-third white, one-third African-American, one-quarter Asian or Asian-American and 10 percent Latino. More than half are from low-income households. In a survey given at the end of the camp, 83 percent said the camp convinced them to think more seriously about attending college.

Saint Paul College campers were approximately half Asian or Asian-American, a quarter white, and 9 percent African-American. About three-quarters received scholarships. Survey results found that 82 percent could better visualize themselves in college.

At the Augsburg camp’s graduation ceremony, Hafsa Hassan told her fellow campers, “I came here … a shy person, not knowing many of you and not knowing what was in store for me.  Now, at the end of just one week, you are my friends and I am excited about college and a job in health care.” She is a senior at Minneapolis Southwest High School and will be the first in her family to attend college.

“The graduation is a point of pride to a lot of the families where no one has ever been to college,” says Laura Beeth, system director talent acquisition for Fairview Health Services. “They invite everyone in the family.”

And that’s not the end of the experience. Some students come back as counselors, gaining leadership experience and skills.

Jicarra Holman, an African-American high school student from Minneapolis who attended the Augsburg camp in 2009 and came back as a counselor the next year, now works as a mental health counselor at the South Metro Home Services after earning a psychology degree at St. Catherine University. She’s also training to become an officer in the National Guard.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about health care,” she remembers. “I just soaked it all in. The science I learned there came in useful later on, and having experience as a counselor on my résumé has led to a number of other positions.”

This is what success looks like

“We want to give them a glimpse of what these careers look like, and something of a college experience that makes the possibility seem more real to them,” explains Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow.

Pribbenow is also chair of the Central Corridor Anchor Partnership (CCAP), a collaboration between a dozen colleges and hospitals along the Central Corridor between downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul, which account for 67,000 employees.  Since 2012, these “anchor institutions” have worked together to boost economic prospects and social conditions in the inner city neighborhoods surrounding their institutions — focusing on improving access to transportation, leveraging the buying power of these institutions, and providing job and educational opportunities for local residents.

Similar anchor institution initiatives (known as “eds & meds”) have made substantial contributions to struggling urban neighborhoods in other cities, including Cleveland, Syracuse, Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia. In Boston, two projects [PDF] launched by local hospitals have helped hundreds of low-income people pursue education for health care careers.

With seven major medical facilities located near the Green Line light rail, the health-care field looks promising for inner-city youth in Minneapolis and St. Paul. After earning a two-year or four-year degree, they can get a steady well-paying job with ample opportunity for advancement at one of the medical facilities in the Central Corridor.

That’s why CCAP supports the Augsburg Urban Scrubs Camp, (launched in 2010 as a project of the Cedar Riverside Partnership) and the Saint Paul College camp (launched in 2013). Both are modeled on a similar camp started at Winona State University in 2008 by Healthforce Minnesota, which is also involved with the two Twin Cities camps as well as others for high school or middle school students in Winona, Rochester, Mankato, Fergus Falls, Bemidji and Dakota County.  As far as anyone knows, this program is unique in the U.S.

Reaching out to Somali students

Fairview and Augsburg make a particular point of recruiting Somali students from the Cedar-Riverside community adjacent to their campuses, reaching out to leaders at the Brian Coyle Community Center, the African Development Center, the West Bank Community Coalition, the Cedar Riverside Partnership, the Riverside Plaza housing complex and other organizations to spread the word and raise money for scholarships.

The Central Corridor Anchor Partnership is also behind the Central Corridor College Fellows Partnership (C3 Fellows), which since 2014 has helped more than 100 inner city students land full or part-time jobs in the health care field while still in school. The program is open to all students from Minneapolis and St. Paul majoring in health care-related fields at Saint Paul College and Minneapolis Community & Technical College (MCTC).

Since most students at two-year colleges must work in order to afford tuition, this represents a significant benefit, says MCTC Vice President Mike Christenson. “They are getting a résumé boost in their intended field along with a big bump in pay. Work/study students average $9.50 an hour, while C3 fellows make $14.44 on average in their field of study. This is important for students who might otherwise leave college for economic reasons. It’s a big win for wage and career at once. And it helps MCTC address our biggest problem — retention.”

And low-income students aren’t the only winners with both of these programs. Regions Hospital CEO Megan Remark notes, “For health-care employers, this is about growing a local work force that more closely mirrors our patients.”

“Initiatives like these are important for our region’s economic success,” offers Eric Muschler, program officer at the McKnight Foundation, which helps fund both programs. “We’re heading toward a labor shortage over the next 15 years as baby boomers retire, so training qualified workers in competitive sectors is crucial to the region’s future.”

C3: Central Corridor  College Fellows Program

It’s a hectic morning early in the fall semester, and students are lined up outside Brian Mogren’s office at MCTC. Mogren, director of Health Care Partnerships at Saint Paul College, administers the C3 Fellows Program on both campuses, traveling back and forth across the river.

Bi (Alfred) Djei, 37, an immigrant from the Ivory Coast who is studying business administration at MCTC, is employed sterilizing surgical equipment for Regions Hospital in St. Paul thanks to the program. It’s a full time position that accommodates his schedule as a student and a new father by offering both daytime and evening hours.

“My goal is to work in health care on the management side,” says Djei, who was an event planner back in the Ivory Coast. “So the job helps me learn more about how teams work and set goals. The Fellows helps me make the most of both my school and my job. And I feel supported because I can call or email Brian with any questions I have.”

Ash Irons, 27, studying to become an RN, saw a flier about the C3 program on campus. “I was hitting a wall in trying to get nursing assistant jobs. It was super discouraging.  I needed a mentor to help lead me in the direction I wanted to go.”

Now she’s working as a health unit coordinator/nursing assistant at Gillette Childrens Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul. “While getting paid I am able to observe the profession.  I’m in the room with nurses all the time. I see what I will be doing. I plan to stay with this job until I’m done with nursing school, and I hope to apply for a job at Gillette.”

Practical, real-world experience

Many students at community colleges are not is a position to take unpaid internships, Mogren notes, “so a job is how they can connect to the work they want to do and get real-world experience.”

“We help them understand what they need to do to apply for a job in the health-care field,” Mogren explains. “How to build a résumé. How to customize their cover letter for a particular job. Help them show their skill sets, and help them realize they may have valuable experience they don’t think of — language skills, technical skills, taking care of sick relatives.”

Even before they find jobs, students in the program are eligible for free training to get certificates in first aid, CPR, and basic life support, which are sometimes required for entry-level health-care jobs.  They can attend C3 tours of health-care institutions like Fairview and Jones-Harrison assisted living facility, and meet with health-care professionals and employers who visit the campuses.

“This all gives them an idea of the different aspects of health care, and helps them decide what in particular they most want to do,” Mogren explains.

“Everything we do help the students present themselves in a meaningful way to employers,” he adds. “And to know which jobs they qualify for.”

Minnesota Legislation Funds Nursing Support

Posted on: June 25th, 2015 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Rep. Karen Clark and David Zander

Following the conclusion of the 2015 Minnesota state legislative session, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) was honored to celebrate the passage of a higher education bill awarding $70,000 to MCTC, Century College and two yet-to-be-determined MnSCU colleges for the implementation of the Kathleen McCullough Zander Success in Nursing Program.

Kathleen (Kathy) McCullough Zander, late MCTC Nursing instructor, developed a 16-unit curriculum to mentor and tutor foreign-born Nursing students. The legislative funding follows the recent announcement of a strengthened Nursing articulation agreement with Augsburg College, as well as a recent remodel and launch of expanded, state-of-the-art Nursing classroom space.

“I am a nurse and a survivor of cancer myself,” said Minnesota Rep. Karen Clark, who helped author and advocate for the legislation. “This legislation was an act of love, and will leave an incredible legacy.”

Friends and family of Kathy and her husband David, as well as many MCTC Nursing faculty, gathered to celebrate the gift on June 24, Kathy’s birthday.

“This legislation is very timely,” said MCTC Interim President Avelino Mills-Novoa. “At our Nursing pinning ceremony this spring, we determined that 60 percent of the graduating class was foreign-born. The very program that you worked so hard for is one that has been deeply impactful for the MCTC community.”

Kathy is survived by her husband David Zander, who advocated most passionately for the passage of the legislation. “For me this is just a small first step in what needs to be done,” he said.

Former MCTC Student Receives Nursing Award in Canada

Posted on: June 8th, 2015 by marketingworkstudy 1 Comment

Ali CadenFormer Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) Nursing student and 2011 graduate Alison Cada recently received an award from the University of Calgary (UOC) Nursing faculty for his work with the Alzheimer’s Society of Calgary and two adult day programs for people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

“The support provided to me by MCTC Nursing instructors and the level and quality of education I received during my time at MCTC has molded me into the nurse that I am today,” he said.

“Ali has a manner that all students can learn from and appreciate. He is calm, patient, adaptable, and always willing to listen to new ideas,” said UOC Nursing instructor Christine Foran. “He treats everyone equitably and with a genuine desire to create a lasting experience for each person he has contact with.”

Ali’s face is familiar to many. See his photos in this MCTC Nursing photo album!

Nursing Alumni Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by marketingworkstudy No Comments

Students in MCTC’s Nursing program.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine awarded MCTC nursing alumni Be Ho a Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than 30 years of work in the field. Be earned her associate degree in Nursing at MCTC in the 1980s shortly after her time as a nurse in the Vietnam War, and is currently working with Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

Read her full story on the Children’s Hospital blog.


Nurse with inspirational story receives lifetime achievement award

By Erin Keifenheim

Be Ho, staff RN, surgery, knew she wanted to be a nurse when she was 4½ years old, yet she never imagined that following her dream would lead her on a journey to flee her home country and start a new life halfway around the world. Now celebrating her 34th year at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, Be recently was named the 2014 Lifetime Achievement winner in the annual Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Outstanding Nurses awards for her amazing nursing skills and perseverance to follow her dream.

Be’s inspirational story starts in Vietnam, where she was born. When her father had abdominal surgery in the French-run hospital there, Be was mesmerized by the French nurses with their blue eyes, long eyelashes and surgical gowns, and the kindness they showed her family. She knew from that moment that she would become a nurse someday. At the age of 9, she pleaded with her parents to send her to nursing school. She cried so much that they finally arranged a meeting for her with the director of a local hospital. He convinced her to hold off on becoming a nurse until she was old enough. Finally, when Be was 17, she couldn’t wait any longer.

“At that time, nursing was looked down on as a career,” Be said. “Girls were supposed to stay at home. Nurses were viewed as the ones who did the dirty work – changing diapers and cleaning wounds. I didn’t dare tell my family I was applying for nursing school.”

Instead, Be lied to her parents, telling them she was going to visit her cousin in the capital, but she actually took the entrance exam for nursing school. Three months later, she didn’t have the heart to sneak away again to find out the results. However, her neighbor had gone to see the results of his fiancée’s exam and saw Be’s name on the list. He came over to congratulate her, thus breaking the news to her parents. Her mother cried and was resistant, but her father persuaded her to allow Be to go to nursing school – he knew she would be a wonderful nurse; he was right. Be went on to graduate second in her class. And because she always knew she wanted to work with children, she took a job at a children’s hospital in Saigon. She eventually went on to become the hospital’s director of nursing.

In 1968, Be received a scholarship to travel to England for intensive nursing care training. In 1972, she visited Minneapolis with a group of young patients who needed open-heart surgeries. The Children’s Heart Fund, now Children’s HeartLink, sponsored her to escort the patients and care for them while they were here. During that trip, she formed relationships with the staff at Children’s – Minneapolis who thought very highly of her and recognized her potential.

Back in Vietnam, the war was continuing. Because Be had traveled outside the country multiple times, the communist leaders suspected her of being a spy.

“Every week I had to write an essay to the communist government saying that I was the country’s enemy,” Be said. “One day I was brave enough to ask why I was being forced to write these letters. They told me ‘because you are such a good nurse.’ It was very hard for me to say I was an enemy when all I wanted to do was provide nurturing and loving nursing care – just like the French nurses I saw as a child.”

Eventually, Be became worried about her future in Vietnam. Her colleagues at Children’s Heart Fund attempted to evacuate her in 1975, but she couldn’t bear to leave without saying goodbye to her family. Though she feared for her life, she said a tearful goodbye to her friends and remained in Vietnam. A few years later, she knew it was time to escape. She contacted her U.S. colleagues for assistance, under the guise that she needed to have open-heart surgery in Japan.

“I had to lie again to escape Vietnam. If I was caught, I would be sent to a concentration camp,” Be said. “I told the hospital I was working for that my grandmother was dying, when she had actually died before I was born.”

Arrangements were made for Be to travel by boat to a refugee camp in Thailand.

“I had to leave without saying goodbye to my family. I wanted to protect them in case the communist government came looking for me. I wrote a letter to my dad and left. It was very scary,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone. It was getting dark. We had to hide under coconut leaves on the boat to disguise ourselves from the communist police who were chasing us. When we finally made it to international waters, I was so happy I cried.”

Be spent five months in the refugee camp, where she worked as a clinic nurse and as a translator for the U.S. delegation. It was there that she also met her now husband, who found her in the crowd of new arrivals and arranged for her to have a place to sleep. While the camp provided safety, she knew there was more out there for her, and soon she was sponsored to work in the U.S. In August of 1980, Be arrived in Minnesota.

“I knew I wanted to work at Children’s Hospital,” Be said. “It was a place of comfort for me. I talked with the director of nursing, but because my nursing papers and transcripts were thrown overboard by pirates during my escape, I had no official paperwork. They hired me as a nursing assistant in the PICU, and I was so grateful.”

With the help of a Children’s scholarship, Be went back to school full time and got her associate’s degree in nursing from Minneapolis Community and Technical College. She was then hired as a registered nurse at Children’s and worked on 4 East (now the sixth floor), before eventually transferring to surgery.

Be is now the urology team leader in the surgery department and works with surgeons and staff to make sure they have the instruments and supplies needed for a variety of surgeries. She works to onboard new surgery nurses in urology and across other services, too.

“With every patient she works with, Be is calm, comforting and compassionate,” said Pat Buzzell, patient care manager for the surgery department. “She takes care of the whole family, reassures them and educates them so surgery isn’t a scary experience. She comes in on her days off to conduct patient family tours, and she often stays late to check in on patients. She does whatever it takes to make families comfortable, using her cheerful personality to calm their fears and put them at ease.”

Be still has a deep love for Vietnam and returns there on medical missions to provide care for children at the hospital where she used to work. She has recruited Children’s surgeons and staff to join her on these trips, where they provide education to medical teams and perform surgeries.

“Be gives everything to her patients, whether they are here or in Vietnam,” Pat said. “She works tirelessly to advocate for them, and she doesn’t give up. Because of the journey she has had and how hard she has worked to get here, Be refuses to settle for anything less than perfection. She believes in hard work and practice and has earned the respect of the surgeons, anesthesiologists and all staff on our unit. Be says it’s an honor to work with kids – I say it’s an honor to work with Be.”

Now almost 70 and pondering when to retire, Be gets emotional when she thinks about potentially leaving Children’s – her second home.

“I am so grateful to Children’s Hospital for all they have done for me,” she said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be here now. This country took me in, but this hospital gave me a second chance for my life. I love Children’s Hospital from the bottom of my heart.”

Michael Rosenberg Gets Involved, Receives Two Degrees

Posted on: May 13th, 2014 by insidemctc No Comments

Michael Rosenberg, graduating MCTC studentCreative, Committed, Confident—Michael Inspires and Succeeds

Michael Rosenberg is accomplishing a unique feat: He will graduate from two colleges with two degrees in the same year.

Originally from Memphis, Michael lived a lifetime even before deciding to pursue his education: As a child, he heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his last public speech prior to being assassinated. As an adult, Michael spent three years as an Americorps VISTA, worked with AVID students to tutor fourth graders and served in the U.S. military. In 2006, he decided it was time for a change.

Having visited family members in Minnesota, it seemed like a natural place to start the next chapter of his life. “I was so committed to making the move, I didn’t even have a place to live at first. For the first three weeks after I moved to Minnesota, I slept in my car at a rest stop. However, I was determined to make it work.”

When he found housing in downtown Minneapolis, a neighbor suggested MCTC for its convenient location down the block. Michael looked into the Nursing program and decided to take the leap. “I hadn’t been to school in 35 years, and I had no idea if I would be accepted by the younger students on campus,” said Michael.

While completing the requirements he needed to become a certified nursing assistant, he also took care of his general education courses and got involved in student life. He joined Veterans Upward Bound, became the founding president of the MCTC Student Veterans of America club (SVA) and later, while attending the regional SVA conference, was named State Director of SVA. Michael also worked with MCTC faculty to bring renowned Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, founder of the national chapter of Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) to campus, which inspired Michael to work with others to found MCTC’s own SAAB chapter. “When we formed SAAB, there was a critical need to look at the challenges facing African American men and men of color in higher education,” said Michael.

Michael excelled in his classes in addition to remaining thoroughly involved in student clubs and groups, but a period of tragedy set him back: his family experienced four deaths within a short period of time, and Michael temporarily relocated to his home city of Memphis to settle matters. “I needed to be by my family,” said Michael. “We needed to be strong. My family always said if anyone was going to succeed, it would be me.” Michael remained in Memphis for several months, though continued his studies at a local community college.

When he returned to Minneapolis, Michael picked up his studies at Metropolitan State University, aiming for his four-year degree. He completed four semesters with near-perfect grades, landing on the Dean’s List each semester. Graduation was in sight, but one hurdle held him back.

“I had great grades, an internship at Project for Pride in Living doing exactly what I want to do and all I needed was one last math course,” said Michael. “Math is not my strong point.”

He came back to MCTC because the College offers a satisfactory Logic course. “From the very beginning my instructor, Dr. Lisa Bergin, told everyone in the class ‘you can get to this.’ It has been tough. I kept thinking I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t get to it.”

Michael’s Logic instructor worked with him to find his path to success. “It’s been a long haul this semester, but my instructor worked with me the whole way. Now my last final is coming up, and my instructor told me she hopes she gets to meet my family at the graduation ceremony.”

Michael will be attending two graduation ceremonies this year—he will receive his associate of arts (A.A.) degree at MCTC’s graduation ceremony in May 2014, and his bachelor’s degree at the Metro State ceremony in December.

“These two degrees showed me I could do anything,” said Michael. “I found I could communicate with my 18-year old classmates. I learned I can bounce back, because not everything’s going to be hunky-dory. I learned to stay involved. If it wasn’t for being involved in SVA and SAAB, I probably would have fallen off and given up. But instead, I developed a sense of pride.”

“I’m getting two degrees in one year. Who does that? People ask me how I found the time to do everything I did. I made time, and it’s paying off. MCTC makes it easy for you to be a part of their family.”

Michael would like to thank MCTC Logic instructor Dr. Lisa Bergin, Sociology instructor Dr. Catherine Miller, Dean of Arts and Humanities Derrick Lindstrom and Veterans Upward Bound Director Joy Wise. “Without these remarkable instructors and mentors keeping me focused I would be just another statistic.”