01 Feb 2022

Lifespan – Building a Workforce for the Future

Josh Pereira


As Rhode Island’s largest employer, Lifespan believes strongly in its obligation to create jobs for the community it serves, according to Lisa Abbott, senior vice president of human resources and community affairs.

In a unique and progressive partnership, Lifespan and the Papitto Opportunity Connection are working together to ensure Lifespan’s workforce and its leaders reflect the communities the health system serves. POC is providing Lifespan with a four-year grant that will accelerate Lifespan’s efforts to build a career development program that is not just for entry level jobs, but for career-oriented opportunities. The result will be more career pathways into high-paying jobs for the state’s BIPOC community.

“The program is aimed to create a workforce of well-trained, diverse healthcare professionals that represent the communities we serve,” said Abbott. “That means increased opportunities for black, indigenous and people of color to have greater access to employment, job training, healthcare professional certification, advanced education and leadership development.”

Lifespan’s existing training programs are largely supported by short-term grants that do not allow for the opportunity to build to scale. Now, Abbott says, the POC “grant will allow us to do so in a more organized and sustainable way.”

Abbott says the POC investment will allow Lifespan to expand its training programs to provide free certifications for high-demand medical professions including Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technicians, Behavioral Health Specialists and Residential Care Counselors. Additionally, Lifespan will develop a paid job training program for formerly incarcerated BIPOC individuals; create a Nursing Leadership Fellowship program; develop succession planning program to prepare diverse employees for leadership roles; and offer academic scholarships for diverse employees.

At the end of four-years, Abbott says Lifespan with POC support will have trained and hired more than 1,000 BIPOC employees through expansion of workforce development programs; including 200 BIPOC nursing assistants and provided scholarships for 40 future nurses from the BIPOC community.

“This is truly a transformational program that will directly create good paying, career-oriented jobs for Rhode Island’s BIPOC community, while at the same time strengthening our state’s healthcare system,” said John A. Tarantino, managing trustee of the Papitto Opportunity Connection.

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