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Hoag Employee Scholarship Program Opens New Possibilities for Staff

I Want to Be the Best I Can Be: Raul’s Story

Raul Suarez was born the same year that his dad Enrique was hired by Hoag. Raul grew up down the street from Hoag’s Newport Beach campus and when his dad worked his way up from a dishwasher to a certified nursing assistant, the whole family took great pride in his achievement.

“It was a big deal to see him in his scrubs,” Raul remembers. “I thought he was someone super important.”

Following in his dad’s footsteps, Raul started his career as a certified nursing assistant in gynecologic oncology at Hoag Women’s Health Institute. He then transferred to Hoag Family Cancer Institute where, as a patient care assistant, he manages supplies and patient scheduling. In 2017, Raul received the Clinical Support Staff of the Year award from Hoag in 2017; the same year he made the honor’s list at school. A true Hoag family, Raul’s dad, Enrique received Hoag Employee of the Year in 2002 (before the inception of the George Hoag Pride Award) and his sisters work in billing.

“Our patients need people who are smiling and outgoing and make them laugh,” he says. “I hear back from them and their families that they appreciate our optimism and it feels good to make their experience easier.”

Hoag helped him with an unexpected gift last year when Raul become the first Hoag Employee Education Scholarship recipient. He used the funds to become a certified phlebotomist which allows him to do more for Hoag patients. He is working on his general education requirements in pursuit of his bachelor’s in nursing degree with the goal of joining the Hoag Family Cancer Institute nursing team.

“I feel like I won the lottery,” he says. “Hoag wants us to be the best we can be.”

I Want to Do More: Leah’s Story

Leah Kraskin was only 17 years old when she got her first job at Hoag as a secretary in the Emergency Department at Hoag Hospital Irvine. Although she was born at Hoag, she grew up in Lake Arrowhead which, she admits, has only one stop light. Moving back to Orange County was exciting and, once she got used to the faster pace, she found her calling.

“I quickly learned how to handle the pressure of calling codes, answering phones, coordinating physician consults and making sure patients had blankets and bottled water,” she says. “But I wanted to do more.”

After three years, Leah became the Senior Administrative Assistant to the Medical Director and Executive Director of Hoag Urgent Care. In addition to supporting senior staff, Leah now manages marketing projects and facilitates and emcees general assembly meetings all the while working on her bachelor’s degree in business administration at the University of Redlands.

“I would not be able to attend such a great accredited university if it wasn’t for the Hoag Employee Scholarship Program,” she says. “My classes have helped me so much in my role at Hoag and I’m so grateful to the donors who made this possible.”

This year, Leah is tasked to lead a project to reduce wait times for Hoag Urgent Care patients. It just so happens that the project coincides with her class on quality operations management.

“Hoag cares for me and its employees on such a deeper level and helps us grow,” Leah says. “I would love to be in a role where I can help people with their future.”

The Gift of Education

Launched in early 2017, the Employee Education Scholarship Fund is supported by gifts from Hoag employees and leaders, physicians and community members. The purpose is to provide scholarships of up to $5,000 for non-nursing employees who are actively pursuing education to advance their careers at Hoag. Currently, priority is given to applicants who don't have an undergraduate degree.

Scholarships help offset tuition and the material costs of earning a degree, diploma, license or certificate that is related to the employee’s career at Hoag.

As of March 2018, the Hoag Employee Scholarship Program has awarded 36 scholarships totaling nearly $150,000. The program was launched by founding gifts from James T. Caillouette, M.D., Joan & Andy Fimiano Endowed Chair in Orthopedic Surgery, Gabrielle White, R.N., executive director of Perioperative Services, Hoag Orthopedic Institute and Patrick C. Mok, R.Ph., MBA, director of Pharmacy, Hoag.

If you would like to support the Hoag Employee Scholarship Program, please contact Adam Gafke, executive director development operations, Hoag Hospital Foundation at (949) 764-1986 or Adam.Gafke@hoag.org.

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