Like many teens, incoming high school seniors Monique Davis and Alexis Breault have high career aspirations.

Both students at East Hartford High School, Monique wants to be an anesthesiologist and Alexis is interested in physical therapy.

Opportunities to explore those career paths can be limited for students in their public school district. Fortunately, the Get Ready! Immersive Traineeship (G.R.I.T.) summer program is designed to help them beat the odds.

Connecticut-based nonprofit ReadyCT launched the G.R.I.T. summer program this year to contribute to its mission of advancing academic excellence and career-connected learning for Connecticut public school students. They do this by connecting public schools with business, civic and education leaders.

Hartford HealthCare is one of the organizations across the region that has partnered with ReadyCT to host students and assign them to projects that help develop solutions for issues facing their organizations.

Four groups of G.R.I.T. students have been assigned projects at HHC’s Hartford Hospital to:

  • Discover how access to information and facilities affects the overuse of the Emergency Department by residents in underserved areas.
  • Assessing the efficiency of notifications that help the LIFE STAR emergency helicopter arrive on the scene as fast as possible.
  • Creating a special floor map of the Emergency Department to help visitors effectively reach the front desk for assistance during peak traffic.
  • Analyzing Human Resources data to determine causes of employee retention and turnover.

Important to the G.R.I.T. experience are the project sponsors, business professionals who lead each student team and work alongside ReadyCT personnel to provide professional guidance. Students meet weekly for three to five hours with their project sponsor.

Evan Schmidt, senior director of strategy and business development for HHC, leads the ER overuse project, of which Monique is a part. Schmidt hopes to teach the students to use data for advocacy. “I want them to be able to look at [data] and tell me what they see,” he said.

Thomas Bascetta, quality and safety operations manager, leads the LIFE STAR project, where Alexis is spending her internship. He hopes students will recognize the diversity of career opportunities in healthcare. “I want them to know there’s more to healthcare than being a doctor or a nurse. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes…to keep the hospital and healthcare system functional.”

In addition to their project work, students go on site visits to expose them to their real-life work environments. The HHC students visited Hartford Hospital, where they toured the Life Star landing pad and heard from staff and administrators.

The summer program lasts for about five weeks, culminating with students presenting their final projects to the Hartford Hospital executive leadership team on August 1.

In addition to helping promising students envision a future in healthcare, HHC hopes that G.R.I.T. and programs like it will help prepare our workforce of the future.

“Anyone who had the opportunity to observe or work with the G.R.I.T. student interns would very readily see that the future of the Connecticut workforce is very, very promising,” said Sheryl McNamee, director of public affairs for ReadyCT. “They’re bright and curious, and their potential is limitless.”