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Second class of Project Search interns to start this month at UCI Health

February 14, 2019

In January, Project Search partnered again with UCI Health, Goodwill and Santiago College to provide career guidance to adults with autism.

The new batch of interns — ages 22 to 30 — will rotate amongst various departments at the medical center. The goal of the program is to help them gain hands-on job experience, as well as teach them about the varying situations and demands present in the workplace.

Each department has a mentor to offer guidance to the interns, and help them adjust to their roles. John Gratzle, senior health physicist for UCI Health, is one of the mentors.

“UCI’s program is among the first program to focus exclusively on adults with autism," said Gratzle. "Our interns are usually social introverts that just need a little special help adapting to workplace norms and work task parameters.”

In December 2018, the first group of nine interns graduated from the UCI Health Project Search program, and many are already interviewing for jobs.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this program, said Steve Eckberg, executive director of human resources for UCI Medical Center. Many of the interns in this program are able to hold fulfilling jobs and just need a little help. While we are excited to be able to help them, they have in many ways helped UCI even more. We are very proud of all the interns and all they were able to accomplish as their road to success passed through UCI.”

The second class of interns is expected to graduate in December.

“My nephew is 26 and currently living at home with this disability. His parents are trying very hard, but there is little help there for him, said Gratzle. Project Search programs, like the one here at UCI, is one way for me to help manifest real improvement in quality of life for these interns.”

UCI Health comprises the clinical enterprise of the University of California, Irvine. Patients can access UCI Health at primary and specialty care offices across Orange County and at its main campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange, California. The 417-bed acute care hospital provides tertiary and quaternary care, ambulatory and specialty medical clinics, and behavioral health and rehabilitation services. UCI Medical Center features Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, high-risk perinatal/neonatal program and American College of Surgeons-verified Level I adult and Level II pediatric trauma center and regional burn center. UCI Health serves a region of nearly 4 million people in Orange County, western Riverside County and southeast Los Angeles County. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.