HCA Healthcare
December 02, 2019


SOURCE: Nashville Business Journal
AUTHOR: Joel Stinnett

A nationwide health care business internship program that recently expanded to Music City is looking for more corporate partners — and it’s in negotiations with Nashville’s largest.

Health Career Connection began operating in Middle Tennessee in 2017 and has placed more than 30 interns in administrative roles inside health care organizations over the last three summers, said Thomas Luten, the program's vice president of corporate foundation relations.

In 2020, HCC is aiming to create about 20 internships and is in talks to place more interns at HCA Healthcare Inc. and expand its relationship with Vanderbilt University Medical Center, among others.

“I determined it would be a great opportunity to expand … into Tennessee because of all the heath care organizations that are here and can provide a variety of experiences for our interns,” Luten said. "That’s our objective, for the program to become a supplier of talent.”

Founded in 1990, HCC places students from underrepresented, diverse, rural or disadvantaged backgrounds in 10-week summer internships focused on non-clinical aspects of health care, said Luten. HCC's entrance into Nashville comes as the city's $46.7 billion health care industry is searching for ways to add diversity to its workforce — something it has traditionally struggled to do.

HCA (NYSE: HCA) is the biggest hospital operator in the nation, with 185 hospitals and 123 freestanding surgery centers in 21 states. VUMC is Nashville’s second-largest employer, according to Nashville Business Journal research, with more than 20,000 employees. It is also the largest hospital in Nashville with 1,051 staffed beds.

The program supports 300 interns each year across nine regions of the country, including California, New York, North Carolina and Washington D.C.

HCC has partnered with VUMC each year it has been in Nashville and had one intern placed at HCA in 2017, Luten said. HCC works with health care organizations to identify and develop specific projects the institution wants completed and then recruits interns to with the right skills to complete the task.

For example, this summer an HCC intern analyzed results from VUMC’s employee engagement survey, researched issues identified in the results and developed a communications plan promoting the hospital’s service expectations.

HHC charges the employer an $8,000 fee for each intern, which covers the student’s $4,500 stipend, a three-day professional development workshop and various seminars, Luten said. At the end of the internship, students give a 10-minute presentation to their department head revealing the results of their project.

In addition to VUMC and HCA, Luten said the program is in discussions with Nashville-based Siloam Health, Johnson City-based Ballad Health and Chattanooga-based Erlanger Health about bringing on interns next summer.

HCC is accepting applications from students for the coming year through the last week of December, Luten said. He expects as many as 200 students to apply in Tennessee.

He said applicants do not necessarily have to have high-grades or majors associated with health care to be accepted — just a strong desire to work in the field.

“We look for passion, a passion for health care,” Luten said.