April 27, 2023

Inspiring students to pursue health care careers

Kaiser Permanente is confronting future health care staffing challenges by reaching out to our next generation.

Kaiser Permanente is showing high school students what health care careers might really look like — and focusing on health equity in the process.

A recent 2-day, hybrid event through Sound Careers in Healthcare allowed  students from King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties in Washington state to hear directly from doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals from organizations across the Puget Sound. They learned about different roles, the training or schooling needed, and the next steps to take. 

“As an employer, it’s important to bring attention to our up-and-coming generation that hadn’t maybe considered a career in health care,” said Denise Banuelos, director of equity, inclusion, and diversity, and workforce development for Kaiser Permanente in Washington. 

Painting the vision of future possibilities

Day 1 began with an in-person career fair at the University of Washington. Students met with health care professionals from numerous organizations, asking questions and going through hands-on exploration stations. 

Day 2 featured a Kaiser Permanente-hosted virtual event that was livestreamed at high schools across the Puget Sound region. Students watched a video showing our medical teams caring for a mock “patient,” from taking vitals and background information to performing diagnostic testing, emergency surgery, and post-operative care. 

After seeing how care teams work together, students asked a panel of professionals from Kaiser Permanente, Seattle Children’s, Providence, Swedish, and HealthPoint questions about what they observed and what training was needed to pursue these roles. 

Students shared that they enjoyed how warm and caring the team seemed as they worked together and that they appreciated the patient-centered approach to health care that Kaiser Permanente provides. They also found the Q&A sessions beneficial to understanding each career and enjoyed seeing the passion professionals had for their careers.

Expanding access and diversity

While our nation needs more medical professionals, these roles must also be filled by a workforce that reflects the diversity of our communities. This free career event was offered to a widely diverse student population, with the aim to reduce barriers and increase access and exposure to the field of health care.

“After they attend a Sound Careers in Healthcare event, maybe these students have a different point of view and realize, ‘OK, I think I can do this,’” Banuelos said. “I’m really hopeful that we’re going to have a diverse pipeline coming forward.”

Event at a glance:

  • More than 800 student participants
  • Attendees from 25 high schools across 9 school districts
  • 78% of participants identified as people of color
  • 90% of survey respondents attested they were now more aware of career choices 
  • 71% of survey respondents said they were ‘very likely’ to pursue a career in health care

We look forward to continuing to work with Sound Careers in Healthcare at future events. If you’re considering a career in health care at Kaiser Permanente, you can find career opportunities at kaiserpermanentejobs.org.