Project SEARCH applications open, virtual open house scheduled

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Project SEARCH at WVU Medicine J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital is recruiting interns for its 2023-2024 class. An open house will be held Feb. 7. Applications are due April 3 and can be requested through high school guidance counselors and local County Departments of Rehabilitation Service (DRS). 

Project SEARCH is an internship experience for high school seniors or recently graduated students with mild and moderate special needs. The program was first established at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 1996, and WVU Hospitals is the first Project SEARCH site in the state.

Once accepted into the program, student interns report to Ruby Memorial Hospital instead of their home school district classroom for the entire school year. Student interns will rotate through several job roles at the WVU Hospitals. Project SEARCH serves as the student interns’ capstone educational experience and often leads to employment once the internships are complete.

Project SEARCH is coordinated and hosted by WVU Medicine and supported by the West Virginia Department of Education. Together, in partnership with other community organizations, they will create a one-year immersion experience that combines classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through worksite rotations. Participating community organizations include:

  • the WVU Center for Excellence in Disabilities;
  • West Virginia University;
  • the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services; 
  • local school systems in Marion, Monongalia, Preston, and Taylor counties; 
  • PACE Enterprises; 
  • the Mitsubishi Electric Foundation;
  • the Fairmont Disability Action Center; and
  • Bright Horizon Childcare Development Center.

For more information about Project SEARCH, including how to apply or how to participate in the open house, contact Nick Lafferty, Project SEARCH instructor, at steven.lafferty@wvumedicine.org.

In addition to the application, interested students must pass a skills assessment evaluation and be interviewed as part of the acceptance process.

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