October 10, 2013


WEST WINDSOR, N.J. – By 2050, minorities are projected to rise from one in every four American to almost one in every two, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. To help meet the needs of this increasingly diverse workforce, the New Jersey Health Care Talent Network at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and the Institute of Wonderful Working Women for Empowerment held the Access, Opportunity & Success in Health Care Conference: Breaking Barriers, Creating Opportunities, & Moving Forward for Women of Color on the campus of Mercer County Community College on October 10.

Jasmine Murray, a student at Mercer County Technical School, gets her blood pressure checked courtesy of Princeton HealthCare System during the Access, Opportunity & Success in Health Care Conference on October 10.
Attendees of the Access, Opportunity, & Success Conference on October 10 get their resumes reviews.
Beverly C. Henderson, clinical services manager at Mercer Home Health Care, Trenton and one of the event’s speakers.
Speakers from the plenary session included, from left, Dr. Allison Frazier Jackson, Dr. Padma Arvind, Dr. Margaret Lancefield (keynote speaker), SMLR Dean Susan Schurman, Peter Jones, and Dr. Gloria Frederick.

More than 100 people attended the event, participating in workshops and touring a “medical village” hosted by Princeton HealthCare System, which offered a firsthand look at the latest health care technology, presented opportunities to speak with health care professionals, and provided a chance for the attendees to explore available jobs at facilities in and around the Garden State.

“While minority groups now make up more than one-fourth of the U.S. population, they comprise less than 9 percent of all nurses in the country. And there is similar disparity in minority representation in most healthcare professions,” says Dr. Padma Arvind, director of the New Jersey Health Care Talent Network. “This event opens a whole range of opportunities for healthcare professionals.”

The health care sector offers opportunities for employment for all levels of education and experience. Additionally, New Jersey has more than 200 hospital establishments and nearly 20,000 ambulatory care facilities, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor, Office of Research & Information.

“We want women of color to be well positioned to be able to take advantage of this strong labor force and growing market and to be able to overcome whatever challenges that they might meet. Leaving this conference, women of color will have skills to understand the challenges and how to confront them. They will learn about resources to help them further their goals of self-sufficiency and success for themselves and their families. The entire day was a win for women who struggle to create careers,” says Dr. Frederick, executive director of the Institute of Wonderful Working Women for Empowerment.

The conference included free health screenings for vision, skin cancer, blood pressure, and cholesterol provided by Princeton HealthCare System. Free appointments for mammogram screenings also were provided to underinsured and uninsured women over 40 years of age in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as well as free digital prostate exams for underinsured and uninsured men.

“I’m a lifelong learner, so I attended this event to find something that will complement my position as a school nurse. I want to bring back some helpful information to the parents and students in my community,” says Antoinette

Davis, who received her nursing certification in 2012 from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

Jasmine Murray, a student from Mercer County Technical School, is studying to become a nurse. She attended the conference to learn more about additional career options in health care. “All of the speakers were very informative. There are so many resources that I didn’t know about. I’m glad I came,” says Murray.

Guest speakers included Kiameesha Evans, Director of Outreach, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey; Peter Jones, Assistant Professor, Cuyahoga Community College; Dr. Margaret Lancefield, Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine, University Medical Center at Princeton (keynote speaker); Donna Scalia, Apprenticeship & Training Program Specialist, U.S. Department of Labor—Office of Apprenticeship; and Catherine Starghill, Esq., Director, Workforce Field Services, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The speakers each reiterated the importance of maintaining one’s mental and physical health as well as having persistence in pursuit of one’s career. They also shared details about the obstacles they’ve overcome and encouraged the women to stand firm in the face of workforce, life, and by societal obstacles.  

“When there’s a no, there’s a yes hidden somewhere down there. Nothing’s a failure, just a try,” says Beverly C. Henderson, clinical services manager at Mercer Home Health Care, Trenton and one of the event’s speakers.

Henderson motivated the attendees by describing how having a child at a young age initially prevented her from finishing high school. She eventually earned her GED and obtained a fulfilling career.

“The Institute of Wonderful Women Working for Empowerment realizes a dream with this conference,” says Dr. Frederick. “Over the past six years we have learned so very much about the issues and challenges faced by women of color as they strive to reach their dreams of financial independence and create careers in the health care field.  For many reaching that dream is an epic struggle, yet the reward is worth the struggle.”

The Access, Opportunity & Success in Health Care Conference was co-sponsored by Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hopewell Valley Community Bank, Institute of Wonderful Working Women for Empowerment, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Mercer County Commission on the Status of Women, New Jersey Health Care Talent Network, Novo Nordisk, Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations, Princeton HealthCare System.

New Jersey Health Care Talent Network (NJ HCTN)’s mission is to serve as a comprehensive resource for employers, individual jobseekers, and education and workforce development providers in a key sector of New Jersey’s economy—health care. NJ HCTN is one of the state’s six talent networks, established to focus on the specific needs of key industries in New Jersey. NJ HCTN was created by The State of New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development and is housed at Rutgers’ School of Management and Labor Relations. For more information visit www.hctn-nj.org.

The Institute of Wonderful Women Working for Empowerment (IW³E) was established by a group of African-American women with the goal to promote the economic well-being of minority women, with a special focus on African-American women, through education and training. For more information, visit http://www.wonderfulworkingwomen.org/

Contact: Renée Walker, Director of Communications, at rwalker@smlr.rutgers.edu or 848-445-7582 

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