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April 25, 2005

Urban League Interns Gain On-the-Job
Experience At Health Center

Shanee Mansaw, seated, an intern with the Urban League's medical office skills training program, and Amanda Pysh, a human relations associate.
Shanee Mansaw, seated, an intern with the Urban League’s medical office skills training program, and Amanda Pysh, a human relations associate, in the purchasing department at the Health Center.

Photo by Peter Morenus

Adults who want to learn medical office skills or train as pharmacy technicians can now do six-week internships at the Health Center through a partnership with the Urban League of Greater Hartford.

The Urban League’s mission is to enable African Americans and other Hartford-area residents to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power, and civil rights.

The internships help the League provide practical, on-the-job experience to participants in its training program. The Health Center gets some valuable labor for free and, as a bonus, can sometimes hire the participants after they have completed their training.

“It’s a program that benefits all of us, the Health Center, the participants, and the Urban League,” says Robert Camilleri, a human resources officer who helped start the partnership.

The Urban League’s medical office skills training program is offered through its Phoenix Academy, and consists of 12 weeks of classroom instruction in courses that include computer skills, medical terminology, medical office procedures, customer service, and job readiness skills. It also includes a six-week internship at one of the partner locations, including several area hospitals, the American Red Cross, and two pharmacies, as well as the Health Center.

“Our goal is to enhance career and employment opportunities for unemployed or under-employed adults,” says Diane Augustine, director of the Phoenix Academy.

The Health Center’s internships are becoming increasingly popular. “We began offering internships for the Urban League training program two years ago,” says Camilleri. “We started with two, and by the end of the year we had five. This year, we have 14 interns.

One former intern was offered a permanent job, and two other participants were hired on a temporary basis. “The governor’s hiring freeze and collective bargaining agreements have a big impact on our hiring,” Camilleri says, “but we were really happy to be able to provide jobs for some of the participants. If we can’t offer the interns employment, we try to make sure they leave with a letter of recommendation that will help them find a job elsewhere.”

Interns have worked in a number of areas around the Health Center, including the University Medical Group modules, the dental school, the purchasing department, the General Clinical Research Center, and orthopedics.

“The interns get an opportunity to use the skills they learned in the classroom, like data entry and medical terminology,” says Amanda Pysh, a human relations associate who acts as liaison with interns while they are at the Health Center. “We have been getting positive feed back from both the supervisors and the interns.”