Category: Workforce

New Director of Medical Education Ready to Unleash Valley’s Untapped Potential

December 2, 2019
Dr. Thelma Hurd joins UC Merced as the Director of Medical Education after years working as a clinician, public health researcher and translational scientist.
Dr. Thelma Hurd joins UC Merced as the Director of Medical Education after working as a clinician, public health researcher and translational scientist.

Dr. Thelma Hurd’s journey in medicine has taken her from New Jersey to Nigeria, with stops in Texas and Buffalo. Along the way, she gathered experience as a clinician, public health researcher and translational scientist.

Her proficiency in these crucial areas has led Hurd to UC Merced, where she became the university’s director of medical education last month.

“It was an opportunity to be part of a new initiative that really resonates with my passion, which is to improve healthcare in rural, high-needs communities and underserved communities,” Hurd said. “The fact that UC Merced is a young university means there is tremendous opportunity to both join ongoing and create new innovative initiatives, and that was incredibly appealing to me.”

After finishing medical school at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey — now the Rutgers School of Biomedical and Health Sciences — Hurd had a desire to be an academic surgical oncologist, allowing her to combine clinical and research approaches to her methods of treatment. Hurd worked in gastrointestinal oncology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas before transitioning to breast cancer at the Breast Surgery Department at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, N.Y.

She said her interest in examining health at a population perspective came from an encounter with a family at Roswell Park with whom she discussed treatment options.

Despite giving the family materials to review about the treatment in preparation for the treatment discussion, Hurd said the family told her, in unison, “whatever you say to do is just fine.” It was in that moment she realized there was a need to address community knowledge and advocacy.

If there was a need to solidify this new outlook on health, Hurd found it in Nigeria. As a member of the Center for Research on Minority Health team at MD Anderson that worked with the Nigerian government to develop a comprehensive cancer control, she began to consider how to deliver care in low- to moderate-resource environments.

“Need, disparities, inequity and rural healthcare issues and challenges don’t have geographic borders. They affect both high and low resource countries,” Hurd said. “If we can develop systems to address healthcare challenges in rural and less-resourced communities, it will be a critical step in bringing healthcare equity to the U.S.”

The experience in Nigeria also opened Hurd’s eyes to how to perceive healthcare crises in rural and high-needs communities that are often tagged as “medical deserts.”

“Nigeria taught me to stop looking at how empty the glass is and to start looking at how full the bottom portion of the glass is, and that is how I look at the San Joaquin Valley,” Hurd said. “I’m not looking at what it doesn’t have, I’m looking at everything it has that hasn’t been tapped or leveraged. You have community cohesiveness — people actually care about one another here and want to improve community health. People interact at a very different level than you see in highly urbanized areas and the Valley has resources. When you have those elements, you can pretty much do anything.”

“Need, disparities, inequity and rural healthcare issues and challenges don’t have geographic borders. They affect both high and low resource countries. If we can develop systems to address healthcare challenges in rural and less-resourced communities, it will be a critical step in bringing healthcare equity to the U.S.”

Thelma Hurd
Director of Medical Education, UC Merced

For the past four years, Hurd has served on the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District’s Health Science Academy Executive Board and worked with teachers as they tailored their curricula to best serve their students’ science education needs. The Tulare County school district is home to a medical education pilot program for UC Merced, and the opportunity to work with the future leaders in medicine in the San Joaquin Valley showed Hurd that addressing the medical disadvantages of the region can be found within.

“There is a tremendous amount of untapped intellectual capital within our students and they simply need to be in an environment that will help them to develop it,” Hurd said. “Our job as medical educators is to provide the educational and experiential opportunities so that they are able to go further than they’ve ever dreamed possible and go beyond what they perceive as limits.”

She said while medical education is thought of as just preparing students for medical school, it plays a major role in producing vital medical professionals in nursing, dentistry and allied health, as well.

“Medical education at UC Merced provides the opportunity to work with people here to not only build a healthcare workforce but to build a workforce that can integrate rural and urban approaches to addressing health and disease,” Hurd said. “Those students who are now in high school or are undergraduates are the future of healthcare and of health in this country.”

UC Merced Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Gregg Camfield said bringing in Hurd — who is a nine-time recipient of the Best Doctors in America designation — is critical to continuing to build the foundation of medical education at UC Merced and in the Valley, one of the most medically underserved areas in the nation.

“She brings a wealth of experience and impressive skills to this very important position on our campus,” Camfield said. “From leading our efforts to further develop programs and initiatives in medical education to continuing her research in health disparities, Dr. Hurd will bring great value to the campus and the community. I very much look forward to working with her.”

Hurd said she is a strong believer in taking time to get to know the community and is looking forward to tapping into the potential of San Joaquin Valley students.

“There are a lot of innovative thinkers here and the university is a crucible for innovative thought. It draws people who think and dwell outside of the box,” Hurd said. “The UC Merced family is one team and together with our communities as full partners, we will be able to change the face of health care and improve population health.”

https://news.ucmerced.edu/news/2019/new-medical-director-ready-unleash-valley%E2%80%99s-untapped-potential

IRS looking to fill 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Looking for a job?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is looking for qualified applicants to fill over 1,400 temporary positions in Fresno.

The agency is looking for clerks, data entry clerks, and tax examiners for jobs up to four months.

According to the IRS, a clerk will generally sort and open mail, tax returns and organize files. A data entry clerk’s main duty will be to key in numeric data from tax returns on a computer while a tax examiner normally reviews returns for accuracy and errors.

The agency says people of all ages can apply.

Those interested should search for job announcements on usajobs.gov with the keyword “Internal Revenue Service” and location Fresno, CA.

In September, the IRS announced it would be shutting down the Fresno tax return processing center following the 2021 season. Around 3,000 of the center’s 5,700 full-time and seasonal employees will be laid off.

Kern Community College District receives $678,514 to assist local companies to train employees

  • November 20, 2019

Kern Community College District’s Board of Trustees approved a contract with the California Employment Training Panel which will provide KCCD up to $678,514 in funds to help local companies improve the skills of their workforce through training.

The contract period is two years.

The California Employment Training Panel provides funding to employers to assist in upgrading the skills of their workers through training that leads to good paying, long-term jobs. This is KCCD’s seventh ETP contract.

Kern Community College District will utilize these funds to help businesses throughout its service area including Bakersfield College, Porterville College and Cerro Coso Community College.

KCCD’s ETP contract allows for training in various areas including industrial skills, continuous improvement, computer skills, management and leadership skills, safety, and medical skills.

Companies interested in accessing these training funds may contact Bill Elliott at Kern Community College District at 661-395-4109 or at welliott@kccd.edu.

Merced County employment hits highest point in decades. Which jobs saw the most gains?

 

More people were working last month in Merced County than at any time in almost 30 years, and the number of people out of work was at its second-lowest point in September – a combination that drove the county’s unemployment rate to its lowest point in decades.

Estimates released Friday by the state Employment Development Department indicated Merced County’s unemployment rate was 5.5%. That’s the lowest it’s been since current tracking methods began in 1990. The previous low-water mark was a year ago, when the county’s unemployment rate was estimated at 6.0%.

Across the central San Joaquin Valley, “August and September are historically the months reflecting the lowest rates each year because of seasonal swings in agricultural employment and because schools have teachers and staff returning to work after the summer,” said Steven Gutierrez, an EDD labor market consultant.

The state estimated the number of people with jobs in the county at nearly 112,000, the highest number for any month going back to 1990. About 6,500 people were estimated to be out of work; that’s the lowest number since 1990. The county’s current population is estimated at almost 283,000 by the state Department of Finance.

The statewide unemployment rate in California dipped to 3.5%, the lowest since 1990, and down from 3.9% a year earlier. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the national jobless rate was 3.5%, down from 3.7% in September 2018.

September also represented new record low unemployment rates in Fresno, Kings and Madera counties. In Tulare County, the unemployment rate was 7.6%, well above other central San Joaquin Valley counties and short of the record of pre-recession lows of 7.1% in May and September of 2006.

The numbers released Friday are unprecedented for most of the Valley, said employment analyst Michael Bernick, a San Francisco attorney who served as director of the state EDD from 1999 to 2004.

“For most of the past 40 years, it’s been a double-digit unemployment rate, and in the Great Recession it was up above 15 percent,” Bernick said Friday. “The growth of health care and education (in the Valley) have led to a more diverse economy, and that’s one of the main factors statewide, too. Out of 11 or so major industry sectors, nearly all have shown job gains over the past year.”

SECTORS WITH LARGEST GAINS

Government jobs with local, state and federal agencies saw the biggest employment gains in Merced County over the past year, together adding about 1,300 jobs. Private-sector education and health services also grew by a combined 700 jobs. .

Bernick said concerns that he and other analysts had that international trade tariffs might harm industries of importance to the state, including agriculture in the Valley, have largely not been realized.

Instead, he said, California has experienced a long-term period of post-recession job growth that has already lasted for 9 1/2 years, dating to the early years of the Obama administration, “well beyond previous employment expansions.”

But, he cautioned, external factors including the national economy and potential effects of longer-lasting tariffs on international trade partners could derail the expansion.

Blake Konczal, executive director of the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board, said he’s excited about the continued job growth in the region and the health of the local economy in a region that has historically had higher unemployment rates and lower average wages than most of the rest of the state.

“The old adage is that a rising tide lifts all boats,” Konczal said. “And although our boat is coming up less quickly than other parts of the state, it’s still coming up.”

Konczal said one particular bright spot in the Valley is the construction industry, which was hit hard when the house-building boom in the region collapsed in the mid-2000s, helping to spark the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009. “Housing is one of the areas now that is booming over and above the continuing high-speed rail project, and there’s a lot of stuff that’s funded for next year,” he said. “School districts are talking about more facilities construction, and we’re getting people prepped for those construction jobs.”

“We also have a small but important manufacturing sector that is starved for qualified workers,” Konczal added, referring to the stability of jobs producing durable goods rather than food processing businesses that typically see more turnover among employees.

Both Bernick and Konczal tempered their enthusiasm by pointing out what’s not included in Friday’s employment numbers.

“We don’t have a good handle on what we would call the ‘underemployment rate,’ or people working in multiple part-time jobs or multiple jobs in which the wages are not at the level where those workers have been before,” Konczal said. “There are lot of service-sector jobs where people are holding multiple part-time positions and trying to make ends meet.”

Bernick noted that in addition to making no distinction between part-time and full-time positions, the employment figures say nothing about how much the jobs pay.

https://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/article236418983.html

VOLT and MJC programs get $1 million grant. It could mean higher-paying jobs for area

 

Almost $1 million in federal grant funds will boost occupational training at the VOLT Institute and Modesto Junior College.

The Economic Development Administration approved the $980,750 grant for Opportunity Stanislaus, whose mission is improving economic vitality in Stanislaus County.

The grant money will purchase cutting-edge equipment used in training programs at the VOLT center and MJC.

The VOLT Institute on 13th Street trains young adults to work as maintenance mechanics in local industries and has a career accelerator program. The trade school was created through a partnership between Opportunity Stanislaus and the county Office of Education.

“The feedback we keep getting from employers is that our program is solid but that having equipment in the classroom similar to the machines students will be using in the field after graduation is essential to their success,” said David White, chief executive officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, in a news release.

MJC also is adding training equipment for its career technical education programs that partner with high schools.

Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, managed to get $1 million for the local training programs in last year’s state budget, and that money served as a match that’s required for the EDA grant. The Economic Development Administration is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, urged the EDA to approve the application for building a skilled work force in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The agency’s competitive grant process has resulted in only one other grant award for the region: $140,000 awarded to Riverbank in 2010.

Warren Kirk, chief executive officer of Doctors Medical Center, said in the news release that the federal grant is “a great example of what our region can accomplish when we work together in support of economic development.”

Gap is bringing 600 jobs to the Fresno area

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Gap Incorporated is set to begin hiring for the 2019 holiday season which will bring more than 600 jobs to the Fresno area.

The company has announced its plans to hire employees for a range of seasonal opportunities including sales associate positions, customer relations representatives and shipment coordinators at distribution centers.

It is hosting a one-day hiring event Saturday, October 5, at all Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy and other Gap incorporated locations across the United States from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Most contingency offers will be made immediately after interviewing at the hiring event.

All seasonal associates will also enjoy the same merchandise discount as the company’s current associates, just in time for holiday gift-giving.

Liberty High School working on new Career Technical Education facility

MADERA COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) — In the Madera Ranchos, off Avenue 12 something big is coming.

A small sign is sharing the news, “Coming Soon; the new Liberty High School Engineering, Agri-Science and Farming Academy,” known as LEAF.

It will be the first facility of its kind in the Golden Valley School District.

Seven new classrooms, four barns for livestock, three shops and greenhouses are just some of the major additions coming with the expansion. All of it benefiting the agriculture department, community and beyond.

“It is just a culmination of everything coming together and that shows that when this community is behind something, it ends up happening,” said Golden Valley School District superintendent Rodney Wallace.

Ag teacher and department head Anne Deniz said currently they are in need of more resources to meet student needs. She is a former Liberty High student and according to her, one of the biggest demands is space for livestock.

“When we have our livestock animals at students homes or they are sharing homes with each other it can be a five, six, eight hour day get to them all and weigh and see them and check up on those projects,” she said.

The new facility also means more classroom space and for Mrs.Deniz that’s a big deal. One of her classes involves making floral arrangements, her students also run a flower shop.

Currently, the school has about 560 students and only three Agricultural teachers. Ag is big in the community and Principal Felipe Piedra said the new facility will create new opportunities.

“We are pretty excited about that for our kids to be able to get some training and education here locally and preparing them for the bigger world,” he said.

The LEAF academy was funded through bond and grant dollars. Initially, it was slated to be completed in 2025, but it is all coming together much sooner in the year 2022. The district expects to break ground sometime next year.

https://abc30.com/education/liberty-high-school-working-on-new-career-technical-education-facility-/5450336/

State, local leaders tour Merced Unified’s CTE programs

 

 

By Sara Sandrik

Monday, September 16, 2019 8:27PM

ATWATER, Calif. (KFSN) — Atwater High School has the largest ag education program in the country, with everything from floral design to diesel mechanics.

Monday, students and teachers had a chance to show why they’ve been successful and what state leaders can do to support districts across California.

From welding to woodwork to horticulture and more, Atwater High had a chance to show State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond how students here are improving their academic and career skills.

“It’s really great exposure and getting all these higher officials who kind of control what we have as a school and what we do as students to really appreciate our program and what just students can do,” said high school senior Sophia Rhodes.

Thurmond was invited to the Merced Union High School District by Assemblymember Adam Gray and was joined on this tour by State Board of Education Member Ting Sun, Senator Anna Caballero, and several local leaders.

“All this equipment that you see that you would expect adults to be driving and getting paid, no these are run by students,” said Dave Gossman.

“I hope to get some ideas today as we walk around and talk to the local experts, and I’m really proud of Merced, the Central Valley, agriculture, and the Merced Union High School District, for all the great things we’re doing,” Gray said.

The district has been at the forefront of the statewide shift toward career technical education and currently offers more than 30 different CTE pathways.

Starting with the class of 2020, all MUHSD students are required to complete at least two CTE courses.

“It’s important for our college-bound students so they understand and get a little exposure to industry before they go to college so they might have a better idea of why they’re going to college,” said Superintendent Alan Peterson. “And then students who are going into the work world, we want them to leave us with those skills.”

Thurmond spoke about the recent increases in state funding for public education and CTE but says more can be done to ensure students are ready for bright futures in high demand fields.

“This is a great opportunity. Every student in our state should have this opportunity, and I’m committed to oing everything I can to make sure that happens,” he said.

https://abc30.com/education/state-local-leaders-tour-merced-unifieds-cte-programs/5544604/

Multi-million dollar project aims to clean Fresno’s air, improve neighborhoods

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — From the soon-to-be cleaner air, you can see workers installing a landmark.

The solar panels on a southwest Fresno home represent the first step in a multi-million dollar journey for the city of Fresno.

“It feels good to see the first project get off the ground and benefit residents, but the best part is it’s going to allow residents to continue having affordable living in Fresno,” said City Councilmember Miguel Arias.

Jose Ledesma owns the home, but his family’s budget was getting squeezed by the high cost of electricity.

He says that in the past he’s had very high utility bills and he anticipates the installation of solar it’s going to drop significantly.

GRID Alternatives installed the panels Saturday with money from a Transformative Climate Communities grant.

“The work that we do as an organization really affects people, planet, and employment,” said Jesse Arreguin. “It’s a win-win all the way around.”

The company is finding people who could use solar panels to save money in three zip codes — 93706, 93721, 93701 — in southwest, southeast, and downtown Fresno.

They’re training people to install them, and they’re cutting down on fossil fuel use.

The company has $1.9 million in grant money for residential installations, so they plan to do this about 60 more times, including some bigger projects like apartment complexes.

Ledesma’s home is the first domino to fall in a huge $200 million Transform Fresno plan.

“People are going to start seeing a lot of groundbreakings, a lot of shovel ceremonies and that’s a good thing because the money is being put back into the community the way it was intended,” Arias said.

An affordable housing project in Chinatown, a community garden, and a bike trail should also get started soon.

But the biggest project will be the West Fresno Center, a satellite campus of Fresno City College in southwest Fresno.

The city has five years to finish the projects if it wants to cash in on state grants to cover about a third of the total costs.

CSUB ranks among top in country in science field salaries

Cal State Bakersfield is in the top tier for salaries in the physical and life sciences in the country, according to a new report by PayScale.

The 2019-20 College Salary Report ranked CSUB at 75 of 543 physical and life science programs evaluated for the report, putting the university in the top 14 percent. Statewide, CSUB placed third in this area within the CSU system.

“Our graduates earn top salaries because employers recognize the value of a CSUB education,” said Kathleen Madden, dean of the School of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering. “We are rightly proud of the role that we play in changing the future for our students while meeting the STEM workforce needs of Kern County and beyond.”

The annual PayScale report is based on the salaries of 3.5 million college graduates.

CSUB ranks among top in country in science field salaries