University Health is the inaugural recipient of the Ready to Work Champion Employer award for its commitment to providing rewarding career paths to graduates of San Antonio’s education and job placement program. Mayor Ron Nirenberg presented the award to University Health President and CEO George B. Hernández Jr. in a ceremony at the health system’s Robert B. Green campus.

“Employers are the driving force and key to our success with Ready to Work,” Mayor Nirenberg said. “They help inform the types of education and certification programs we offer through our prime partners, and they round out the program through a commitment to hire participants who have completed job training.”

University Health has hired 12 Ready to Work participants in fields ranging from environmental services to direct patient care. Three of those employees have been promoted to higher paying positions within the health system, two have become registered nurses in the Neuro ICU at University Hospital, and one has been promoted to a supervisory position in Environmental Services.

“The need for health care workers across a wide range of positions is growing, especially at University Health,” said Hernández. “SA Ready to Work allows people to join our organization in good-paying entry level positions with lots of opportunities for growth through our career ladders. For example, through this program and a commitment to continuing education, a medical assistant can become a registered nurse. With paths like that to choose from, a career in health care can lift up a person and a family–and that’s good for us and for our community.”

Joan Torres, a help desk support specialist at University Health and a graduate of Ready to Work, was employed in the insurance industry when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and she lost her job as well as several family members. Ready to Work helped her get back on her feet as she began retraining and found a position at University Health. Torres said throughout her training, Ready to Work support staff regularly checked in with her and provided financial resources to bridge hard times.

“Those ladies really touched base,” Torres said of her case managers. “They were like coaches. They want to see you succeed.”

Torres is now working on security certifications to advance her career at University Health.
“We are fortunate to have employers and community partners like University Health, where people can go to spend their careers in constant growth and advancement,” Nirenberg said.
Ready to Work leaders intend to recognize a Champion Employer quarterly. There are more than 400 pledged employers who have committed to help keep the program current through identifying target industries and in-demand jobs, and by hiring participants once they have completed training.
If you are interested in making the pledge to hire Ready to Work participants or becoming a Ready to Work participant yourself, please visit or call 3-1-1 for more information.