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AtlantiCare & Cheyney University Announce Enhanced Partnership

Collaboration includes weeklong immersive learning experience for students.

Cheyney University Student Alasia Brow uses a microscope to view a specimen. (Photo provided)

AtlantiCare and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, the nation’s first historically black college or university (HBCU), are enhancing their partnership aimed at expanding student learning and career opportunities.

They also aim to create a more diversified workforce and to achieve greater health equity in communities across the region and healthcare in general.

Representing AtlantiCare’s first formal agreement with an HBCU, the partnership includes a series of opportunities AtlantiCare is hosting for Cheyney students through August 2023.

The two organizations made the announcement during a ceremony at AtlantiCare’s Medical Arts Pavilion in Atlantic City on January 10.

The ceremony, which took place during National Mentoring Month, started with leaders from both organizations welcoming 25 Cheyney Life Sciences and Technology students.

These juniors and seniors have volunteered to spend a week of their winter break participating in a unique immersive learning opportunity with the AtlantiCare team.

Cheyney Students Najai Jones Sr., Jasmine Heard, Kayla Thomas, and Valerie Lightly on the AtlantiCare Helipad. (Photo provided)

“Our shared goals include enhancing learning and career opportunities for Cheyney students,” said Lori Herndon, MBA, BSN, RN, AtlantiCare president and CEO Herndon. “Our AtlantiCare team is committed to mentoring these students, introducing them to opportunities, and helping them make connections for healthcare and other careers. We make sure diversity, equity, and inclusion are part of everything we do in caring for our community. This includes making sure our care team represents the patients we serve.”

“Our goal with every collaborative effort is to equip our students to become future leaders in the profession they are studying and pursuing,” said Aaron Walton, president, Cheyney University. “These partnerships are benefiting our entire academic community, allowing students and educators to utilize these opportunities to create new career pathways—on and off the campus. Bringing industry leaders to our campus and providing avenues for students to access off-campus partners, like AtlantiCare, allow students to engage and acquire skills for the jobs of tomorrow.”

AtlantiCare & Cheyney Group Shot (Photo provided)

During the event, several students who shared moving stories about why they are interested in healthcare careers.

“One of my career aspirations is to go to medical school to become a physician,” said Mohamedanwar Idress, a junior at Cheyney majoring in biology with a pre-medicine concentration. “I hope to specialize in surgery. Being in this immersive experience at AtlantiCare, I’ll receive insights about being in the medical field and get a better understanding of what it truly means to be a physician. Being able to visit different departments will allow me to explore different specialties.”

Herndon presented each student with a starfish to conclude the ceremony. She explained that AtlantiCare embraces Loren Eiseley’s “The Star Thrower” story as a symbol of their commitment to delivering health and healing to all people—one person at a time—through trusting relationships.

“This partnership brings the best of what Cheyney is all about to the best of what AtlantiCare is all about,” said Herndon. “What matters to each of us as leaders in healthcare and education is that this is a great kickoff to what we hope will be a long relationship.”

AtlantiCare has committed the resources and people to ensure the winter session is fully immersive and offers students a well-rounded look at various paths they can pursue in healthcare, as well as real-world observations and clinical experiences. Education for the week of January 9-13 includes rotations with healthcare professionals at AtlantiCare’s Regional Medical Center (ARMC) Atlantic City Campus, as well as at its newly opened Medical Arts Pavilion and the William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex—also in Atlantic City.

The approximately 30 different areas and roles students will learn about include Emergency Services, AtlantiCare’s Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) Family Medicine and Pediatric clinics, Intensive Care Unit, Medical Lab Sciences, Neurosciences Institute, Nursing, Operating Room, Orthopaedics, Pediatric, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Comprehensive Stroke Center, Surgical Services, Regional Trauma Center, Radiology, Respiratory Therapy and support services, and more.

Students began the week on Monday, January 9 with an orientation and overview at the medical center. They will tour and meet with care team members through Thursday. They’ll end the week Friday with a sharing experience. AtlantiCare hosted a virtual meet-and-greet for the students in December. There they met with AtlantiCare leaders to discuss their career goals and what they hoped to learn during the immersion experience.

At least one student has an aspiration to work internationally. By providing students with these experiences, AtlantiCare and Cheyney support regional economies by paving the way for steady employment and ensuring critical healthcare positions have a pipeline of dedicated, qualified candidates.

“The exposure Cheyney University students are gaining this week is essential to the developent of their identity as healthcare professionals and to positioning them for employment  in healthcare settings while they continue their training for healthcare careers,” Vanessa Atkins, MS, executive director, Strategic Partnerships and Career Pathways, Cheyney University.

Christian Ragland, MPA, assistant vice president DE&I, AtlantiCare, evoked the words of Martin Luther King Jr. to capture the vision of the enhanced partnership.

“Dr. King said, ‘Make a career of humanity.’ I believe we are doing what Dr. King encouraged,” said Ragland. “AtlantiCare and Cheyney University are partnering to guide these future healthcare professionals in making a career out of humanity while empowering these students to commit to achieving true health equity and a diverse workforce. We are creating career pathways to enhance the journeys of Cheyney University students today and in the future.”

“This partnership is right in line with the inclusive work we set out to do on a daily basis,” said Sandra Garrett, MBA, RPh, BSPharma, assistant vice president, Women’s and Children’s Services and building manager, Medical Arts Pavilion and co-executive sponsor of AtlantiCare’s Legacy Employee Resource Group.

In the spring, AtlantiCare will host another group of Cheyney University students for a learning opportunity focused on social determinants of health. This experience will offer students a deeper understanding of how AtlantiCare addresses food insecurity though its pantry, HealthPlex and Federally Qualified Health Center, and other community health issues.

About Atlantic Care:

AtlantiCare is an integrated healthcare system based in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, whose more than 6,000 staff, providers and volunteers serve the community in more than 100 locations in Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, and Ocean counties of southern New Jersey.

Its vision of building healthy communities together drives its mission of making a difference in health and healing, one person at a time, through caring and trusting relationships.

A Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award winner, AtlantiCare was also included in Modern Healthcare’s Best Places to Work.

AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center was the 105th hospital in the nation to attain the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Magnet™ designation in 2004 and earned redesignation in 2008, 2013, in 2018.

Learn more at atlanticare.org or 1-888-569-1000.

About Cheyney University:

Proudly standing as the nation’s oldest HBCU, Cheyney University has been a stalwart and highly respected institution of higher education since its founding in 1837.

For 182 years our alumni have emerged as leaders and left their mark on the social, economic, and political history of Philadelphia, the surrounding region, the nation, and the world.

Building on this legacy, the vision for Cheyney University is to become the premier model for academic excellence, character development, and social responsibility among not only HBCUs, but in all of American higher education.

Learn more at cheyney.edu.