This summer, KP LAUNCH marked its 55th year of mentoring high school and college students who hope to pursue health care careers.
Two talented groups—101 college and 180 high school students—were exposed to safety operations and patient care, hospital administration, finance and accounting, among other fields. The paid, eight-week program ended last week.
“KP LAUNCH is committed to being in service to the communities we live in, work in and service,” said KP LAUNCH Supervising Consultant Barry Dinkins. “We invest time, money and expertise in young people who are interested in pursuing opportunities in health care.”
College students and recent graduates worked 32-40 hours a week, mostly in non-clinical settings. Ten of those hours were devoted to professional development. The high school students shadowed doctors and nurses in health care settings.
“We work diligently to support underserved and underrepresented young people by providing them with a supportive framework to launch onward and upward toward their goals,” Dinkins noted.
Some interns, like Glenda Monterroza, aim to get hired at Kaiser Permanente after they graduate.
From intern to longtime employee
Three-time intern Monterroza has fond memories of her KP LAUNCH internships. In 2002, she began participating in the program at the Walnut Creek Medical Center, where she learned about hospital administration and how various departments are run. She was an intern for the following two summers.
“We met excellent mentors who talked about their work,” said Monterroza, now a community health manager. “I especially remember learning so much from National Diversity Director Edgar Quiroz.”
In those days, Monterroza wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She knew she didn’t like needles. The internship opened her eyes to a plethora options.
When she graduated in 2005, Monterroza’s internship mentors helped her with her résumé and sent her job listings. She was hired as a business application coordinator at Kaiser Permanente.
Today, as part of her community health work at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California regional offices, Monterroza works with community organizations that are focused on public health issues, such as health care coverage and access, and health workforce gaps.
“The best thing about working for Kaiser Permanente is my amazing team,” she said. “The work we do is part of a larger mission, knowing that we’re a leader in the health care space. I hope I can inspire others.”
Finding a career path
KP LAUNCH interns work hard, learn a lot, and make friendships along the way. Most of all, they gain experiences that may set them on a career path.
Emily Tenorio Molina just wrapped up her internship with the Kaiser Permanente East Bay Public Affairs team. This summer was her second time participating in KP LAUNCH.
Last year, she interned with the Kaiser Permanente regional communications team, where she was introduced to corporate writing.
“I didn’t become a professional writer until I was accepted into the KP LAUNCH program,” noted Tenorio Molina, who graduated from UC Berkeley last year.
Because of her internships and the thrill she felt from being published, Tenorio Molina hopes to pursue Bay Area health care writing opportunities.
“I will forever be grateful to the wonderful people who helped me to achieve an unimaginable goal,” she said. “My Kaiser Permanente mentors believed in my writing skills and taught me how to improve my communication. Every person I met during my internship was supportive of my projects and end goals. That boosted my self-confidence. Now, I can use my skills to represent the values, services and stories of health organizations such as Kaiser Permanente.”
Applications for the summer 2024 KP LAUNCH Program will be available this fall. Updates will be posted online soon on the KP LAUNCH website.