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Through a collaboration between Advocates and the UMass Chan Medical School, recent college graduates are receiving hands-on training to prepare for inclusive health care practice.

Scholars in the Pathways to Inclusive Health Care (PIHC) program, which is housed within the medical school's Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center, work directly with individuals within Advocates' Developmental and Brain Injury Day & Employment Services. This experience, paired with disability services study, prepares future providers to deliver health care services that meet the needs of people with disabilities.

According to Elizabeth Bardasz, Vice President of Developmental and Brain Injury Day Services at Advocates, "Advocates is proud to partner with UMass Chan Medical School on this powerful initiative. Ensuring that the next generation of providers practices inclusive healthcare is critically important, and the scholars add a great deal to the day-to-day experience of individuals supported in our programs.”

Scholars accepted into the program are preparing for post-graduate health care study, including medical, nursing, clinical, and related training.

One of the first scholars to complete the program, Michelle Gitau, graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2022 with a degree in neuroscience. She explains, "I genuinely love working here. I feel like I have a presence at Advocates. Because the physical, occupational, and speech therapists, nurses, and directors are so approachable, it's easy to ask questions about anything from logistics to behaviors to insulin checks."

To learn more or to apply to the PIHC program, visit the PIHC website.