Diversity & Inclusion

Project SEARCH

In 1995 the American College of Healthcare Executives adopted a policy statement that reads, in part, “…healthcare executives must take the lead in their organizations to increase employment opportunities for qualified persons with disabilities and to advocate on behalf of their employment to other organizations in their communities.”

Project SEARCH at the Seton Healthcare Family offers an innovative and comprehensive approach to employment for individuals with intellectual disabilities through real world work experience in an internship setting and on-going, long term support in job retention and career advancement.

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Developed at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996, Project SEARCH is now a best-practice model for employers worldwide and has been implemented in over 140 hospitals and businesses. Over the course of one academic year, individuals participating in a Project SEARCH internship at the Seton Healthcare Family receive hands-on training, on-the-job support, work site adaptations, travel training to and from work, and any other accommodations necessary for successful and sustainable employment.

Piloted in 2007, Project SEARCH at Seton Medical Center Austin (SMCA) is a collaborative partnership between the Marbridge Foundation and the Seton Healthcare Family. The first effort of its kind in Texas, Project SEARCH at SMCA is a nine month professional internship for adults with intellectual disabilities. Interns work in areas throughout the hospital including Supply Processing and Distribution, Sterile Processing, Environmental Services, Clinical Laboratory, Food Services, Health Information Management and Surgical Services. Now in its third year, Project SEARCH at SMCA has graduated two classes of interns, fifty percent of whom have found competitive employment within the Seton Healthcare Family. Graduates who did not find a position within the hospital have found successful employment within the community using the portfolios provided by Project SEARCH that contain: certificates of accomplishments, total number of hours completed during the internship, professional references, and recommendation letters.

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Project SEARCH at Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas (DCMCCT) was implemented in 2008 as a High School Transition Program as a collaborative partnership between the Austin Independent School District and the Seton Healthcare Family. This effort is a one year educational internship for students with intellectual disabilities in their last two years of high school. It is targeted for students whose main goal is competitive employment. Fifty percent of the students from the first class have been hired in positions at DCMCCT.

Awards and Recognition

  • The Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities recognized the Seton Healthcare Family with the statewide 2009 Large Employer Award of the year award because of its innovative practices in hiring individuals with intellectual disabilities through Project SEARCH.
  • The Seton Healthcare Family was recognized as the 2008 Health Care Heroes Employer/Business Leader by the Austin Business Journal for its work with Project SEARCH at Seton Medical Center Austin.
  • The Project SEARCH model received the 2004 New Freedom Initiative Award from the United States Department of Labor for exemplary and innovative efforts in furthering the employment of people with disabilities.

project_search_05At the Seton Healthcare Family, the work and the accomplishments of Project SEARCH is an extension of our mission and values. We believe each person is a sign of God and endowed with dignity. Therefore, we embrace the diversity of each individual and the practice of inclusion which is the essence of Project SEARCH.

If you are interested in learning more about Project SEARCH, please contact projectsearch@seton.org.