Attaining a Career Path: Project SEARCH at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Image of large blue and white arrows pointing right with blue and white sky background. A person wearing all black with a dark blue mask and glasses is to the right of image. Text on the image: "EMPLOYMENT Project Search Vanderbilt University Medical Center."

Are you currently seeking employment?  Would you enjoy working for a world-class medical center in a role that directly supports patient care?  Would on-the-job training in real-world work settings help you attain a career and reach your goals? Then, Project SEARCH at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is for you!

Project SEARCH at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is an internship program for high school graduates 18 years and older with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  At Project SEARCH, interns are immersed in the workplace where they participate in three 10-week rotations to learn transferable job skills and explore career options. Initiated at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 1997 as a way to fill high-turnover positions, while at the same time helping people with disabilities prepare for employment and adult life, Project SEARCH has since grown to over 700 sites in 48 states and 10 countries.  The employment outcomes demonstrated by Project SEARCH continue to show that this program is one of the most successful employment-training programs in the world.  And, when you compare Project SEARCH worldwide against the employment outcomes of Project SEARCH at Vanderbilt University Medical Center over the past 4 years, it is apparent that our interns are achieving excellence.  In fact, 100% of Interns from our program in the past 4 years have achieved successful employment as identified by Project SEARCH:

  • Earning a prevailing wage
  • Working in an integrated setting (working alongside people with and without disabilities)
  • Working at least 16 hours/week
  • Non-seasonal employment

Joining Project SEARCH at Vanderbilt University Medical Center means that you will be training alongside industry professionals in 40+ departments/clinics throughout an organization that prioritizes diversity and inclusion.  Since the inception of the program in 2005, Vanderbilt University Medical Center has hired 89% of Project SEARCH Graduates, and recently celebrated the hire of the 100th program graduate.  Our program has also recently debuted an online training module that is offered to all medical center employees that educates participants in appropriate disability etiquette, People-First and Identity-First language, and in providing effective training to our Interns.  This module recently received national recognition and ultimately ensures that all Project SEARCH Interns will receive the most beneficial and enriching training while participating in the program.

One of Project SEARCH’s most recent graduates, Charlize (pictured) stated it best when she said, “Project SEARCH helped me reach my goals.  All of the skills that I learned in the program and practiced in my internships helped me get hired in the Vanderbilt Children’s Pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician.  I love my job and I love doing work that positively impacts patients. I am grateful for Project SEARCH, and don’t think I would be where I am today without their support.”

Project Search is currently seeking Interns for the 2023-2024 program year. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the program, or if you would like to set up a tour of the facility, please contact Brandon Pflug at

In the meantime, check out this Project SEARCHat Vanderbilt University Medical Center Promotional Video, and watch Carter’s Story, a success story of a graduate of the Project Search program.

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