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“AHEC of a Summer Program at Lane St. Helena Parish Hospital Outstanding Experience for Area Students”
Louisiana faces a serious shortage of health care professionals. Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC) collaborated with St. Helena Parish Hospital, St. Helena Parish School Board, and Northshore Technical Community College to bring the “AHEC of a Summer” volunteer program to students in the area. The program is an excellent tool by which students can explore different health care professions and make decisions about their future based on experience and observation. Students are volunteering their time for fifteen days in the summer at St. Helena Parish Hospital. “AHEC of a Summer” applicants are high school students who have a career interest in the medical profession. The program provides the students with the opportunity to participate in health related volunteer work and the freedom to explore career interests in the various fields that comprise the world of health careers. The students are rotating through various departments at the hospital to gain hands-on experiences so they can determine for themselves whether or not a health career is a good choice for their future. They are able to obtain knowledge and experience from healthcare professional mentors, field trips, workshops, and guest lecturers. The program supervisor at St. Helena Parish Hospital is Dorisshell Ramsey, and the program educator is Epuri Prasanna, of St. Helena College and Career Academy.
The 2016 program participants are Alia Matthews, St. Helena College and Career Academy; Sarah McQuirter, Silliman Institute; Freont’e Muse, St. Helena College and Career Academy and Shermil Myles, St. Helena College and Career Academy. Students are chosen on the basis of grades, a written essay, and an interview. “AHEC of a Summer” is an accredited high school course for one-half unit elective credit.
CLAHEC is a non-profit, community-based agency that serves as a training and information resource for health and education professionals for a 17-parish region. A primary goal of CLAHEC is to identify local needs and develop programs that will encourage healthcare professionals to practice in rural and underserved communities where their services are urgently needed. Karen McCord, program coordinator, states that “AHEC of a Summer is an essential tool for students to discover if a career in the medical field is right for them.”