Dana-Farber Supports Boston’s Future Healthcare Workforce

Ana Heredia’s internship experiences helped her gain essential skills she will use in college and in her future career.

Boston is home to some of the nation’s best physicians and hospitals, making the city a longtime leader in the U.S. healthcare sector. The city’s healthcare and social assistance industries account for over 18% of total employment, with five of the ten largest employers being hospitals. These institutions are committed to supporting and developing future talent through internships and other career exploration activities.

One such institution is the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI), which in partnership with the Boston Private Industry Council (PIC) and the Boston Public Schools (BPS), opens its doors to more than 40 high school interns each year as part of its summer jobs and workforce development program.

“Our hiring of high school students is part of the DFCI’s commitment to growing future talent and our mission to train the next generation of healthcare professionals,” said Candace Burns, DFCI Director of Inclusion and Workforce Development. “This program gets at the core of that by identifying young people who live or go to school near the hospital who might be excited about careers in healthcare but don’t necessarily have access to opportunities, internships, and experiences.”

In 2022, DFCI welcomed 45 Boston Public Schools high school students to their comprehensive student training initiative.

Ana Heredia, a 2022 graduate of Fenway High School, is entering her freshman year as a psychology major at Framingham State University, so she was keen to maximize the opportunity to learn about the healthcare system and develop new skills before starting college. During the school year, she interned in DFCI’s Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care and followed it with a summer internship in Adult Ambulatory Care Services. Both her internship experiences helped Ana gain essential skills she will use in college and in her future career.

“I learned a lot of transferable and professional skills. When working for the Psychosocial Oncology Department, I learned to be independent and manage and prioritize my tasks,” she explained. “And this summer, working with patients, I’ve also grown my communication skills and improved my ability to collaborate with my co-workers.”

Over the summer, as part of the caregiving team on Yawkey 11, Ana assisted patients with their appointments and quickly answered any questions and concerns. In addition, she also created the daily schedules for the Clinic Assistants and providers. Gabriel Lozada, the Lead Clinic Assistant at Yawkey 11 and Ana’s supervisor, said she has continued to improve her work and has made herself a crucial part of their summer rotation.

Over the summer, Ana created the daily schedules for Clinic Assistants and providers.

“Ana has grown to be independent and very dependable in her role. When she first started, she was very quiet and timid, but now, she is very sure of herself, her questions, and her answers. I’ve been able to step back and just let her do her work,” explained Gabriel. “She’s become a crucial part of our team. She’s the anchor of our customer service window and has managed it with great success.”

Ana is grateful for DFCI’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and diverse scientific and medical community representative of the communities it serves.

“I appreciate the work that (DFCI) does to allow students like me who are curious and willing to learn about healthcare. Being an intern here has shown me what it’s like to work in healthcare and allowed me to build character and skills under the support and guidance of great mentors,” said Ana.

DFCI has worked with the PIC to engage BPS high school students since 1995. In 2007, Dana-Farber established its Office of Workforce Development, and the youth employment services evolved into a comprehensive student training initiative. To date, serving over 900 BPS interns, DFCI’s Office of Workforce is committed to developing its current and future workforce.

Ana, a 2022 graduate of Fenway High School, is entering her freshman year as a psychology major at Framingham State University.

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