In 2015, Aspirus Riverview Hospital and Opportunities Development Centers, Inc. (ODC), formed a powerful partnership when, together, they launched Project SEARCH. What is Project SEARCH? Project SEARCH is an international nine-month program that provides training and education leading to integrated employment for youth with disabilities.
Aspirus Riverview understood that all individuals benefit from meaningful work. With a mission that includes a pledge to “strengthen the communities we serve” Aspirus Riverview was honored when asked to serve as the business site for Project Search. As the business site, Aspirus Riverview agreed to provide dedicated classroom space and internships throughout the hospital so students could learn important job skills to make them more marketable.
Aspirus Riverview and ODC worked with hospital directors to develop internships job descriptions. Internships were provided internships from every department including pharmacy, lab, imaging, housekeeping, and food services. Hospital directors also agreed to supervise each student with support from a job coach. Each Project SEARCH student would be given the opportunity to rotate through three hospital internships during the nine-month program.
In September 2015, the inaugural class of Aspirus Riverview students arrived. Clad in matching royal blue polos, the students embraced the opportunity to learn. After a few weeks in the classroom learning hospital policies and procedures, they were assigned to various internships, where they quickly captured the hearts and admiration of the hospital staff. Not only were the interns happy, they found every job meaningful and taught hospital employee that being able to work is a gift.
Since 2015, five groups of students have gone through the Aspirus Riverview Project SEARCH program. Many of the students found work in the community after graduating from the program. In addition, Aspirus Wausau Hospital also became a Project Search business site in 2018.
Aspirus Riverview and Wausau Hospitals recognize that the Project SEARCH students don’t have disabilities, they really have “unique’ abilities. What could be more meaningful them helping each student find their own career success?