KP Launch provides opportunities for young people who might otherwise lack the resources to explore a career in health care. Pictured above, Isabel Carlay observes Amber Harris, RN, caring for a young patient in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.
Isabel Carlay is a 17-year-old mother of twin toddlers who has a dream of becoming a Neonatal Intensive Care nurse.
Sandeep Kaur is a 20-year-old first-generation college student who is considering a master’s in public health or health care administration, or possibly going to medical school.
The two young women are participating with nearly 300 high-school and college students who are taking part in Kaiser Permanente Northern California’s KP Launch (Learn About Unlimited New Careers in Healthcare) program this summer.
KP Launch reaches out to high-school and undergraduate college students from low-income families and backgrounds who are underrepresented in the health care professions and offers them 8- to 10-week full-time, paid summer internships.
“Our goal is to introduce our interns to the many career opportunities in health care and provide a chance for them to learn from our own health care professionals and leaders,” explained Trisha Lee Ramirez, KP Launch program administrator. “We want them to learn practical job skills and to begin to build their professional network.”
Isabel Carlay’s first thoughts of a career in nursing came as she watched the nurses at Kaiser Permanente’s Oakland Medical Center take care of her premature twin daughters in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit last year.
Carlay, who will be a freshman at Merritt College in the fall, is now interning at the same hospital’s Pediatric Neurosurgery Department, where she’s been given the chance to regularly shadow nurses in Pediatrics, Pediatric Intensive Care, and Neonatal Intensive Care.
“This program has really changed my life,” she said. “It’s motivated me even more to go into the nursing field. The nurses I got to interview said it’s a good job and they love it. I want a job that I love.”
Sandeep Kaur’s summer working at Kaiser Permanente’s Care Management Institute is her first professional internship. She said the most rewarding part of her experience has been the people she’s been able to meet and what she’s learned from her half dozen informational interviews with employees and leaders.
Last month, Kaur, who is a junior studying public health at UC Berkeley, got the chance to sit one-on-one with Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson. She described the 15-minute meeting as “incredibly motivational.”
“Being a first-generation college student, sometimes you have the mindset that you’re behind everyone else. But this internship is helping me to overcome my background and level the playing field. I’m really thankful for this opportunity.”
Professional Development and More
In addition to gaining work experiences at Kaiser Permanente medical centers or administrative offices, KP Launch interns meet regularly as a group for daylong professional development sessions on topics such as public speaking, career planning, networking, and managing stress.
At a recent gathering of high-school interns at Kaiser Permanente Oakland, Aminah Cherry, MD, and Teresa Munoz, MD, talked about their paths to becoming physicians.
The audience included 18-year-old Carlos Dominguez, who will be a first-generation college student at UC Irvine next month.
“The speakers have really opened my eyes to the many career paths I might take,” he said. “I’m excited to try everything, so one of my challenges will be figuring out what I want to do.”