Igniting the Spark!: Inspiring future healthcare leaders
This year marks the 5th annual Spark! Challenge created by the Northwell Health Workforce Readiness team and it’s on track to be bigger and better than ever. Unique to Northwell, the Spark! Challenge provides students and team members the opportunity to connect across our vast health care careers.
Programs are provided on-site in both clinical and non-clinical positions for the students to learn directly from our participants. These “Career Days” are followed by an awards ceremony where both student and employees can be rewarded for their activities. Dorothy Feldman, SVP, Chief Risk Officer is a shining example of successful employee involvement and has been a big supporter of the program for years.
A former teacher, Dorothy credits this career history as an influence on her desire to participate in the Spark! Challenge. “The Spark! Challenge gives us a chance to be involved in the communities we serve and to showcase the talent and opportunities at Northwell,” she says, “Having the students on-site has been a lot of fun and my team loves working with them.”
Getting the next generation involved with her risk management team is helping to innovate the way we educate students about health care careers opportunities they might not know much about. And to educate them that Northwell goes beyond just clinical positions. Dorothy says, “The Spark! Challenge has been a wonderful experience for the students that have attended as well as the Risk Management team. We’re able to teach the students and give them information on the variety of career opportunities in our health system outside of the clinical jobs.”
The Spark! Challenge helps students ignite new interest in STEM. By visiting different Northwell departments like the Risk Management team, students get a unique look at where their careers can take them from the employees themselves. These students are the future of our health system, and connecting with them early on is a high priority at Northwell Health.
Not to mention – it’s fun! “Team members enjoy the opportunity to tell the students about their journey at Northwell. For the 2018-2019 program, we are hoping to have even more team members involved.” With three years of experience, Dorothy’s also a great resource for Northwell employees starting the program at their location or participating for the first time. Her advice? “Over prepare! The kids can go through your material very quickly.”
“The Spark! Challenge is a wonderful way to excite students about the vast scope of clinical and non-clinical careers in health care.”
–Cheryl Davidson, Sr. Director of Workforce Readiness
It only takes a spark to light imaginations. For the past four years, that’s exactly what Northwell Health’s Spark! Challenge has done. This unique program teams local high school students with Northwell Health employees in order to:
Grow student interest in STEM health care related careers.
Build a pipeline of students to energize the future workforce.
Creates career awareness through exploration and experiential learning.
Provide an introduction to Northwell Health’s culture, values and mission.
Give teachers/school counselors insight into the scope of health care careers.
This year, 600 junior and senior high school students from 32 local schools participated in the Spark! Challenge. They were supported by 50 Northwell Health teams, representing careers in areas such as:
And MUCH more….
You can view the complete list of participating departments and careers here.
Engaging future healthcare leaders.
Through the Spark! Challenge, students were given the opportunity to preview clinical and/or non-clinical career paths through practical and engaging encounters with professionals in the field. After their visit to a Northwell facility they had two assignments:
Create an advertisement spotlighting one of the careers highlighted during their visit,, successfully connecting the job to one of Northwell Health’s values.
Share the career they explored through a two-minute presentation at the Spark! Challenge award celebration (with their student team).
“It was a privilege to participate. I was energized by the experience!”
–Deborah Schiff SVP and Executive Director, Ambulatory Strategy and Business Development
The envelope please…
The Spark! Challenge Award Ceremonies were held on April 12, 2018 at The Cradle of Aviation Musuem. Northwell Health’s EVP and Chief Operating Officer Mark Solazzo and Joseph Moscola, SVP and Chief People Officer awarded the prizes. In true Northwell Health fashion, Mark doubled the originally planned prize money and ended up awarding a total of $26,000 to the winning school teams. Congratulations to the winners:
Presentation Winners – $2,000 awarded to each school team
Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School
Valley Stream Central High School
Tottenville High School
Sacred Heart Academy
Presentation Honorable Mentions – $1,000 awarded to each school team
William Floyd High School
Baldwin High School
Tottenville High School
John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore-Merrick School District
Amityville High School
Smithtown High School
First Place Winner: Glen Cove High School, $5,000 award
Second Place Winner: Lindenhurst Senior High School, $3,000 award
Third Place Winner John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore-Merrick School District $2,000 award
Northwell Health is grateful to all of the student participants as well as the Northwell Health employees who donated their time to make this year’s Spark! Challenge such a success. Next year promises to be even better!
“Kudos, to the Spark! Challenge winners and every participant. You each brought your whole self to the Challenge – not only your knowledge and expertise but also your enthusiasm and appreciation for our values. Stay true to who you are, keep your convictions, be courageous and you will become an authentic leader!”
— Tom Thornton – SVP, Northwell Ventures
FIRST PLACE – Glen Cove High School
SECOND PLACE – Lindenhurst Senior High School
THIRD PLACE – John F. Kennedy High School, Bellmore-Merrick
Earlier this year over 700 junior and senior high school students visited 50+ Northwell Health sites and service lines to learn about STEM careers as part of our 3rd Annual Spark! Challenge created by the Workforce Readiness team. During their visit students were exposed to a diverse set of clinical and non-clinical career opportunities available within the health care industry by hands-on learning “Career Days”. Students were then asked to collaborate with their team to create a career advertisement and a two minute career presentation to showcase at our Awards Ceremony.
“I don’t know how we did it, but we coordinated 8+ teams of students from Bellmore-Merrick JFK to cook a full Thanksgiving Day feast under one hour,” shares North Shore University Hospital’s head chef, Mike Kiley. “Staff from Food & Nutrition coached the students, while pushing their competitive buttons with a holiday cook-off. Not only did the teens have fun, they learned nutritional tips and how to better work as a team.”
Last week students, teachers and Northwell Health employees and executives filled the Cradle of Aviation for the Award Ceremony and over 45 schools presented on their chosen careers from their visit. The day was filled with interactive workshops and activities from various departments that included, 3D bioprinting, a CEMS simulator, Culture of Care workshop, Bioelectronic Medicine, telemedicine, a robotic surgery simulator and more.
As an organization we are always focused on educating our communities at all ages and the Workforce Readiness team does this by innovating the way we interact with next generation professionals about vast health care careers. “There’s no industry like health care. Besides pursuing a career as a doctor or a nurse, you can also be an engineer, a chef, an accountant, a computer tech, a transporter – well the list goes on,” said President and CEO, Michael Dowling.
Everyone’s a Winner
During the awards ceremony, students and Northwell Health employees received monetary awards and myReward points respectively for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place on their presentation and careers poster. In true form, our President and CEO Michael Dowling tripled the award bucket just moments before the winners were announced.
In total, over $12,000 in prize money went to students from Tottenville High School, Sacred Heart Academy, Valley Central High School and Glen Cove High School for their clarity, enthusiasm, and content in the Presentation Award category. We also awarded over $14,000 in prize money to students from Amityville High School, Baldwin High School, Bellmore-Merrick JFK High School, and Valley Stream Central High School for their creativity in the Poster Award category.
“We have doubled our participation from both students and Northwell Health sites since last year,” says Lauren Pearson, Manager, Workforce Readiness. “What a truly amazing and inspiring day. I am so grateful to work here, doing a job I love, surrounded by amazing people and leadership.”
Promoting STEM Careers
With STEM careers on the rise, educating students early on is a high priority at Northwell Health. One of the many goals throughout the Spark! Challenge is to ignite student’s interest in the STEM careers we have throughout our health system. With each unique site/service line visit, these students received an in-depth look as to the many clinical and non-clinical career paths we have available. Our employees know these students will be our next leaders and want to show them the endless opportunities a career in health care can provide for them, and support them in their journey.
In the words of Michael Dowling, “Never believe you can’t do something. When you get up each day, try, and then perfect that process and move forward again. Don’t be stagnant. Always keep moving. There is no limit to your success.”
It is the policy of Northwell Health to provide equal employment opportunity and treat all employees equally regardless of age, race, creed/religion, color, national origin, alienage or citizenship status, sexual orientation, military or veteran status, sex/gender, gender identity, gender expression, disability, generic information or genetic predisposition or carrier status, marital status, partnership status, victim of domestic violence, or other characteristics protected by applicable law. Northwell Health leaders, including the CEO, are committed to the principles of Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action.