Applications Accepted for Project SEARCH® Internship at UAMS

By Jon Parham

The UAMS Project SEARCH® program, to be the first of its kind at an Arkansas university, will be modeled after the internationally successful Project SEARCH® program started at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati. Ten to 12 young adults ages 18-35 will be selected for the one-year internship that will provide real-life work experiences combined with training in employability and independent living skills.

For a downloadable application form and additional information on eligibility, visit The application deadline is May 1.

UAMS will serve as the host business for the program, providing work experiences that match an intern’s skills, such as possible entry-level jobs in nutrition services, environmental services, information technology or clinical areas such as stocking supply cabinets or patient transportation. UAMS also will assist with overall program coordination and provide an on-campus program space for the employability/independent living skills training and intern supervision assistance.

ACCESS will provide program instruction for each intern; seek funding for the educational portion of vocational instruction; provide educational supplies, curriculum and technology as needed; provide job coaching and job development; and supply follow along services after internships have ended.

Arkansas Rehabilitation Services will provide intern sponsorship through vocational counseling and career guidance as well as financial sponsorship directly applied to vocational education, job coaching and job development.

“Bringing Project SEARCH® to UAMS affirms our desire of diversity as an institutional value,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “UAMS is committed to providing a quality work experience for these interns that prepares them for fulfilling careers as they apply their talents to helping UAMS deliver a superior patient- and family-centered environment.”

Founded in 1996, Project SEARCH® has grown to an international one-year internship program for individuals with developmental disabilities who desire sustainable, competitive employment. Its proven training and employment model is used in more than 150 licensed programs spanning 42 states, four countries and multiple industries.

“We are so excited to be working with UAMS and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services to bring this unique, on-the-job training program to central Arkansas,” said Tammy Simmons, ACCESS executive director. “The UAMS Project SEARCH® program offers Arkansans with developmental disabilities an opportunity like no other to develop the skills needed for meaningful work and all of the personal benefits that come with it.”

The students work with a team that includes their family, a special education instructor and Rehabilitation Services administration to create an employment goal and support the student during the transition to work. The goal is to help participants build competitive, marketable and transferable skills to enable them to apply for a related job.

“The Project SEARCH® collaboration with ACCESS and UAMS builds on the work of Arkansas Rehabilitation Services to prepare Arkansans with disabilities to work and lead productive and independent lives,” said Judy Smith, director of transition services for the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services division of the Department of Career Education. “We are pleased to see this project come together and we look forward to offering the support that will ensure success for the interns.”

UAMS Project SEARCH® interns will be selected for the program following interviews with a selection committee made up of representatives from the three organizations. Eligibility criteria include having an intellectual disability, developmental disability and/or a referral from Arkansas Rehabilitation Services; a high school diploma, GED or certificate of completion; appropriate social, communication and independent living skills for participation in a work program; and reliable transportation to and from work. The interns also must meet UAMS employment requirements such as immunizations, the ability to observe patient privacy rules, pre-employment drug screening and background checks.

ACCESS is a 501c3 nonprofit offering evaluation services, full-time education, therapy, training and activities for individuals ages 0-35 with developmental delays and learning disabilities. Founded in 1994, the center comprises ACCESS Preschool; ACCESS Academy (for kindergarten-age students through grade 12); ACCESS Therapy (including speech, physical and occupational therapy programs); ACCESS Tutoring; ACCESS Life (a young adults day program); and ACCESS Evaluation and Resource Center (offering psychological and psychoeducational evaluations as well as technology training for students, parents and teachers). The center is located at 10618 Breckenridge Drive in Little Rock, Ark.

Arkansas Rehabilitation Services is a division of the Arkansas Department of Career Education. A network of 19 field offices serves individuals with disabilities in all 75 counties, as mandated by federal legislation. ARS also operates the Arkansas Career Training Institute (ACTI), which is a comprehensive rehabilitation center, one of eight in the United States and the only one west of the Mississippi. ACTI is a residential facility that provides education and training, as well as medical services and other supports, to individuals with disabilities. The services that individuals with disabilities can receive through ARS include career counseling, assessment, postsecondary education, career and technical education, training, and medical services if it is determined that medical services will help a client find employment. Clients may also receive support services such as assistive technology, job placement services, employability skills instruction and coaching, and life skills instruction. High school students with disabilities are provided transition services to help them move successfully from high school to further education and training or jobs. For more information, visit the website at and click on the Arkansas Rehabilitation Services tab.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 775 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS regional family medical centers throughout the state. Visit or