“Don’t make excuses, make examples,” says Marlena Conner, RN, at DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital .This is Conner’s mantra as she moves ahead with a career that actually began with her participation in Project Genesis, a DMC youth employment and professional development program. “The DMC initiated Project Genesis because our commitment goes beyond health care. We want to uplift the communities we serve,” said Joe Mullany, CEO of the DMC. “Project Genesis helps local students grow and explore the great career opportunities available in healthcare. It is rewarding to see how the program inspires students to excel, and even more rewarding to see them return to join the DMC family.”
This summer’s students are nearing the end of the program and when school opens in the fall, they’ll go back with a lot more real world work experience. Participants work 30 hours a week for eight weeks in numerous areas, including patient unit care, pharmacy, respiratory therapy, laboratory, rehabilitation therapy and the corporate offices. The program emphasizes good work habits and supports career development. Each week the students attend a forum led by a healthcare professional.
Conner began her journey with the program in 2010. During her time working at DMC Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Conner was able to job shadow in several departments which helped shape her career choice. When she started the program, Conner wanted to be a pediatrician, but after shadowing nurses, found that nursing was her true passion.
Three Project Genesis summer programs later, Conner began school at Eastern Michigan University. Two years later she was one of 80 students accepted into the nursing program. EMU’s nursing program requires students to have a specified number of “points” which can be earned by completing certain classes, a high GPA, and hands-on experience in the healthcare field. Along with excelling in classes and achieving a 3.7 GPA, Conner thinks that her work experience in Project Genesis played a big part in her getting admitted to the school of nursing on her first attempt.
Conner graduated from EMU in December 2015 and after passing her exams and certifications, was hired by the DMC as a registered nurse at the DMC Hutzel Women’s Hospital. “It feels great to be back, and I do give credit to the Project Genesis program for me being able to get the positions that I have, especially as a student nurse and registered nurse,” says Conner.
Conner believes that Project Genesis is great for the community as well as students, as it offers local youth a summer opportunity to gain experience, build a resume, and gives them something positive to do during the summer months. Like Conner, several other students have returned to DMC for full employment in various areas of healthcare, including one student who is now a physical therapist.
Conner hopes this year’s students will strive to challenge themselves, always take the opportunity to learn, and never take the Project Genesis experience for granted.