Career Health Connections Program Broadens Horizons for Wilson County Students
Area L AHEC and Wilson Education Partnership launch pipeline program in Wilson County.
Each of NC AHEC’s nine Area Health Education Centers works with local partners and community organizations to identify regional needs, recruit and train future health professionals, and support and retain health workers. Combined, the NC AHEC network aligns work based on customer need and ensures that the expertise of our state’s academic institutions reaches all 100 North Carolina counties.
In fall 2017, NC AHEC directors and North Carolina hospital CEOs met to discuss collaborative efforts. At that meeting, Bill Caldwell, former CEO of Wilson Medical Center, a Duke LifePoint Hospital, remarked that he would like for NC AHEC to explore ways to expose high school students to career opportunities at the hospital. With a goal of meeting this need, Area L AHEC staff began discussions with the Wilson Education Partnership (WEP), whose mission is to work with Wilson County Schools, businesses, and the community to promote excellence in public education.
In January 2019, after several meetings with hospital staff, individuals from Carolina Family Health Centers (CFHC), and Wilson County Schools, Area L AHEC and WEP launched the Career Health Connections Program. To date, seven students have spent 20 hours over eight weeks shadowing healthcare professionals at CHFC and Wilson Medical Center. The program has allowed students interested in healthcare to learn more about a variety of health professions.
“Partnering with Area L AHEC has been amazing for our high school students,” stated Robin Williams of WEP. “Together we created a program that gives students a hands-on experience in a healthcare setting with healthcare professionals. [High school students] have not had an experience like this in Wilson County in years. Now, each semester, students get an opportunity to learn more about health careers. This is the only program of its kind in our community, and we are excited about the future of Career Health Connections.”
Additionally, Area L AHEC connected high school students to the cohort of NC AHEC Scholars from Barton College, who are participating in a similar shadowing experience. Each high school student will receive the Youth Health Service Corps’ National Community Service Recognition Award supported in partnership with the National Health Service Corps.
“Carolina Family Health Centers is excited to be participating in the Career Health Connections Program with the Wilson Education Partnership and high school students from Wilson County,” added Laura Owens, PharmD, CEO of CFHC. “The experiences that these students will gain through real-life situations in a healthcare setting will be valuable and informative in helping them choose their education and career pathways. Opportunities to mentor our prospective doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists through this and other, similar programs are important for our local youth, our community, and the future of healthcare.”
At their March 2019 meeting, the Wilson County Board of Education recognized the community partnerships and Wilson County Schools staff who made this opportunity possible for high school students in Wilson County.
David Lyndon, Executive Director of Secondary Education at Wilson County Schools stated they are extremely excited and fortunate to have partnerships that provide this opportunity for their students. “The experiences these students have had could not have been duplicated in the regular classrooms and will give the students numerous advantages as they move forward in determining their career pathways.”
Visit arealahec.org to learn more about health careers programs and how Area L AHEC aligns work to meet regional need.