UAMS Receives Roger Carter Award of Excellence From National Rehabilitation Association

By Yavonda Chase

“UAMS is honored to be presented with this award,” said Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA, UAMS chancellor and CEO of UAMS Health. “Project SEARCH is a tremendous program that offers young adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn skills that will help them find full-time employment.”

The Roger Carter Award of Excellence honors an employer who has demonstrated exemplary achievement in the recruitment, hiring and retention of persons with disabilities throughout all levels within the company. Roger Carter was a rehabilitation counselor with Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services who provided years of dedicated services to individuals, the community and the National Rehabilitation Association. He passed away unexpectedly in 2018, and the award was established in his honor.

A nine-month internship program for young adults with developmental disabilities, UAMS Project SEARCH is a partnership with the Little Rock-based nonprofit ACCESS® and Arkansas Rehabilitation Services. Interns participate in the program with the goal of gaining necessary skills to obtain competitive employment.

UAMS Project SEARCH was first of its kind in central Arkansas. It was modeled after a program that began in 1996 at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since UAMS Project SEARCH began in 2013, more than 82 interns have gone through the program with 90 percent finding employment.

“I want to say when Project SEARCH first appeared on our campus, we believed the program would provide UAMS an opportunity to help young adults with disabilities reach their potential,” said Odette Woods, senior director of staff diversity, equity and inclusion in the UAMS Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, during the virtual award ceremony. “It has done that.  However, it has done so much more.  As our employees, students and guests interacted with Project SEARCH interns and alumni, our campus culture changed by becoming more inclusive and welcoming to all Arkansans — regardless of their abilities or disabilities. For that we are grateful.”

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and eight institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute, Institute for Digital Health & Innovation and the Institute for Community Health Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,275 students, 890 medical residents and fellows, and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 12,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), YouTube or Instagram.