A gateway from high school to Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine’s Pathways Emerging Careers Program invites Philadelphia high school graduates to start a career with Penn Medicine with extra coaching, training, and mentoring.

Dwaine B. Duckett, senior vice president of Human Resources for the University of Pennsylvania Health System (UPHS), sees one of Penn Medicine’s key roles in the Philadelphia region as opening doors to opportunity — ensuring that everyone who wants a job will be able to envision and have a chance at a potential role within the health system.

Students and four advisers in a conference room, the five students hold up certificates.
Recent graduates celebrate their completion of the Penn Medicine Pathways Emerging Careers Program. (Image: Penn Medicine News)

But those doors haven’t always been easy to get a foot in for all young people growing up in Philadelphia. As Duckett puts it, historically, they “have a hard time accessing the institution.” That difficulty becomes a barrier to making the institution’s workforce better reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the people of the city it serves.

Efforts at UPHS are aimed at changing that, through an HR partnership with Susan C. Taylor, a physician and vice chair of diversity, equity and inclusion in dermatology at the Perelman School of Medicine; Jennifer TerMaat, director of Talent Management and Placement; and Mariel Harden, a UPHS administrative fellow.

The result is the Pathways Emerging Careers Program, which invites Philadelphia high school graduates to start a career with Penn Medicine, and sets them up for success with extra coaching, training, and mentoring.

Its aim is to recruit promising young people, get them started off on a good note in the organization, and help them develop and pursue career goals, with all of the support that Penn Medicine provides, which includes tuition benefits for bachelor’s and advanced degrees while they are employed with the organization. Duckett, who grew up in the city and graduated from Martin Luther King Jr. High School, muses about the opportunity to join the workforce and get a degree with financial support as well as prospects for higher education: “If I was graduating from high school today and I was told that I could get a job, that would have tuition reimbursement attached to a good minimum wage, 15 bucks an hour, I would have never taken off and gone to college in Boston. I would have never left Philadelphia.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.