Newswise — WASHINGTON (June 21, 2018) — The George Washington University (GW) Rodham Institute now serves as the home of the Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative. This new partnership greatly expands and strengthens its ability toward assuring the availability of well- trained direct services workforce throughout Washington, D.C., and Maryland.  

One of the key goals of the Collaborative is to promote new thinking and innovation in the development and training of direct service workers. A project already underway provides 30 high school seniors, who may be at risk of not graduating, the opportunity to become certified nursing assistants (CNAs). The students will receive their training as part of the school day, and they will receive transportation from high school to a nursing home to complete their practicum. After receiving their high school diploma or GED, students will have the opportunity to take the certification exam. Their exam fees will be covered.

“There is a real need for CNAs, as well as medical assistants and personal health attendants, but they need to have graduated high school,” said Gigi El-Bayoumi, MD, founding director of the GW Rodham Institute and professor of medicine at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “Looking at this through the lens of health equity, high school graduation is the strongest social determinant of health, and is strongly tied with life expectancy. This project will shepherd these students toward high school graduation and into a health care career, and participation in this program will improve the students’ own health outcomes. You can imagine the halo effect this opportunity has on the individual high school student, their family, and their community.” 

This pipeline program would be the first project of its kind to cross state lines, focusing on communities in both Washington, D.C., and Maryland. The project will not only address challenges in Ward 8, but in Prince George’s County, Maryland, as well. The Collaborative furthers the GW Rodham Institute’s mission to improve health equity through increasing the number of health professionals from communities in need.

“Individually you can do a lot, but by working collaboratively you can do so much more,” said Ron Carlson, who chairs the Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative Steering Committee. “What’s exciting about this partnership is the joining of individuals and organizations who are committed to make a positive difference. It is very encouraging to see the business, healthcare, and education communities – in both the public and private sectors – rallying together to take on the hard work of assuring that older adults and persons with disabilities have the care and support that are needed from direct services workers.”

The Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative was launched by the Paul R. Willging Endowment, established in 2012 to provide student scholarship support and community learning at the Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. The Endowment partnered last year with the Erickson School of Aging at the University of Maryland Baltimore County to convene the region's first summit on direct services workforce training.

In addition to the pipeline program and other new initiatives, the Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative will be undertaking a regional environmental scan to identify the issues and areas of the region where new and additional work is needed.

To learn more about this partnership, visit

Media: For more information or to interview Dr. El-Bayoumi or Mr. Carlson, please contact Lisa Anderson at [email protected] or 202-994-3121.


About the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences: Founded in 1824, the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) was the first medical school in the nation’s capital and is the 11th oldest in the country. Working together in our nation’s capital, with integrity and resolve, the GW SMHS is committed to improving the health and well-being of our local, national and global communities.