Most of the 15 Jersey City residents that came to the Mary McCleod Bethune Life Center on July 24 wore blue shirts and black pants, a kind of uniform for the next step in their lives as potential emergence medical technicians (EMTs).
But they had already gone through a rigorous selection process that showed they were committed to taking the next step.
In a unique partnership through the Jersey City Employment and Training Program, Jersey City Medical Center and its affiliate, Barnabas Health promised that if these individuals got through the training, the hospital network would guarantee them jobs.
Most of the 15 who took the program had been previously unemployed or met other low-income requirements that qualified them for the program – which was paid for by a collaborative state and local grant.
After a 20-week intensive training course, these students would be offered local employment at an hourly rate of $16 or better.
This was only the start, a foot in the door of a medical profession that would allow them the opportunity to advance in JCMC, Barnabas or some other health provider.
“These students will have an opportunity to advance.” -- Joseph Scott
Students were issued a book, uniform, and blood pressure measuring device as part of the gear.
“They learn all the basics,” Dinkel said. “They have time in the classroom and in the field.”
Students get to practice taking blood pressure on their own, learning what is normal so that they can later recognize what is abnormal. They get to work side by side with seasoned professions and see what it is all about. They learn what EMS is, and study human anatomy. They learn about heart management, trauma, even OBGYN as well as nearly anything else they might later encounter during their actual work in the field.
Classroom study is two days a week, eight hours a day, with additional clinical work at some site or on the road. Classes for the EMT certification course started on July 24 and end of Nov. 20. Students attend Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Dinkel and other instructors are long time instructors. Regular programs they teach fill up quickly. This is why this program being offered to these 15 people is so special.
“People want to get into this field,” Dinkel said.
This is a gateway into the medical field, which is a growing industry with a lot of potential for future employment and advancement.
But getting here and beyond isn’t easy.
“This is hard work,” Dinkel said.
Jim McGreevey, director of Jersey City’s Office of Work Force Development , said this is a golden opportunity for anyone looking to get into careers in pre-med or other medical jobs.
“There is a lot of opportunity,” he said. “People are always getting ill.”
Indeed, for these 15, the road to the classroom was tough. The program reviewed more than 1,000 applications and took only those candidates who were determined enough to complete the program.
Joseph Scott, president and CEO of JCMC, said opportunities are expanding even in Jersey City. Liberty Healthcare plans to reopen Greenville Hospital as an outpatient center, as well as other centers around the city. He said the EMT certification is only a foot in the door of a larger potential career.
“These students will have an opportunity to advance,” he said. “They may be able to take courses to become nurses or doctors.”
Mayor Steven Fulop said the health network is one of the largest employers in the state and this program is part of his administration’s agenda to provide job opportunities.
McGreevey pointed out that these students are learning skills, as well as preparing for a job, and that they can carry those skills on to other places in the future, opening many more doors to them.
Fulop addressed the students saying that if they were willing to go through the program and dedicate themselves to becoming and EMT or paramedic, they will add to the whole Jersey City Community, as well as benefiting themselves and their families.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.