GCD: Creating Career Paths in Geriatric Health Care for New York City Youth

The New Jewish Home plays a unique role in advancing the career trajectories of youth and shaping the next generation of clinicians who will provide care to a rapidly growing population of older adults.

Created in 2006 to address the workforce shortage in geriatric health care while enriching the communities in which Jewish Home’s campuses are located, the Geriatrics Career Development Program (GCD) propels hundreds of youth from under- resourced communities into college and allied health care.

The GCD high school program serves students attending Title I high schools in the Bronx and Manhattan; the intensive after school program combines intergenerational mentorships, certification training in allied health, professional internships, college preparation and academic and social service support.

To date, more than 550 young people have graduated the program. Among the most recent 2018 class of 50 high school seniors, 100 percent graduated high school and were accepted to college. In 2014 GCD expanded to serve unemployed and out-of- school young adults ages 18-24 by providing internships, professional development and clinical training to become home health aides.

“The GCD internship was one of the best experiences I have had. The wisdom and kindness I received will always stay with me,” shared 2018 graduate Sarmin Akter. The program’s participants have earned a total of 1,176 allied health certifications. Among GCD alumni, two are enrolled in medical school and three are in doctorate programs. An effective workforce development pipeline, The New Jewish Home has hired more than 100 of the program’s alumni.

While working at Jewish Home, participants average 8,000 hours of care for older adults and serve as their mentees. Eradicating ageism is the vision of The New Jewish Home, and GCD’s mentor program plays an integral role in helping young people see the potential, strength and value in older adults. The mentors build strong, lasting bonds with the students, imparting their wisdom and advice. In fact, Jewish Home resident and GCD mentor Drucilla Marshall was honored in 2015 as Mentor of the Year by AJAS.

GCD’s intergenerational workforce development program model is being replicated at Ovation Communities, a senior living network located in Milwaukee, with support from LeadingAge Wisconsin. The New Jewish Home’s senior vice president of human resources and GCD program director are providing guidance and support to this new initiative.

“I’ve seen how life-changing the GCD program is for so many young people and I’m so very proud of their achievements” said John Cruz, GCD program director. “Not only do they complete rigorous clinical training, they also learn to build respectful relationships with the older adults we serve. As we look to the future, we’re delighted to share our program with other communities.”

© 2023 Association of Jewish Aging Services | All rights reserved.

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