Health Career Academy to begin in January for Lowndes County students
Published 10:18 am Thursday, November 30, 2017
By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
A DeltaCorps grant funded seven-month Lowndes County Health Career Academy for 10th, 11th and 12th graders is slated to begin on Jan. 27.
The academy, which will meet for about five hours once a month on Saturdays, is open to Calhoun, Central and Lowndes Academy students. And a registration fee is $25 per student is required.
“The overall goal of the Lowndes County Health Career Academy is to increase awareness and promote health careers among 10th, 11th and 12th grade students,” said Melanie Chervony, education service member who is overseeing the classes. “Ultimately we want to prepare these students to get accepted into these (health) professional schools and then come back to Lowndes County and practice so that we can create and build our own healthcare workforce here in Lowndes County.”
“We proposed a grant for Lowndes County and won that award,” said Martha Davis Vignes, executive director of Southeast Alabama Area Health Education Centers (AHEC).
Vignes said Lowndes County has the highest health professional shortage area score among 15 counties serviced by the Southeast AHEC.
“What that means is there are not enough healthcare providers in Lowndes County,” Vignes said. “And so, that’s what we’re trying to do in a sort of long range sort of way is to help grow your own in Lowndes County because we know that students who grow up in Mobile or Huntsville or Birmingham, the chances of them coming to Hayneville and serving or Abbeville down in the southern part of my service area, is not going to happen. And so, we feel the best way to do that is help these students here get better prepared to be providers in the county.”
Vignes said a $22,960 grant for the academy is for one-year for Chervony’s living allowance and an education award.
The location of the classes is yet to be determined according to Vignes and Chervony, but could possibly be held at a church or public facility or the Lowndes County Board of Education Central Office.
A meeting was held to discuss the particulars of the academy at the Lowndes County Extension Office Monday, Nov. 20.
Along with Vignes and Chervony, present were Katanga Mants, County Extension coordinator for Lowndes County, Alabama A&M and Auburn University Extension; Stanley Windham, assistant director of County Office Operations Alabama A&M and Auburn University Extension;
Lowndes County Superintendent of Education Dr. Daniel Boyd; and Lowndes County District Judge Adrian D. Johnson.
Chervony said Classes are to be held January through July with graduation in August.
She said the academy is looking for a $25 registration fee from the students after they have been screened and accepted into the program because, “We want to make sure that they are invested themselves so that they come every Saturday (once a month).”
At each class, Chervony said, a variety of people from different health disciplines such as nursing or public health will do presentations on their job descriptions, academic requirements, education institutions the students can apply to and the expected salaries.
She said there will also be hands on activities pertaining the disciplines presented.
Vignes said it is hoped there will also be at least two campus tours.
Vignes said an advantage of taking the classes include showing that a student had participated in an enrichment program like this when applying to a health career program.
She said, “We have interns who are in college who said if we had seen this when we were in high school then maybe we wouldn’t be majoring in biomedical and we’d be going into something specific like nursing.”
Chervony also said, “We’re going to need to find at least three unpaid community volunteers to help on Saturdays to set up the class and to recruit students into the program.
Johnson suggested that various organizations could provide meals for the students.
Chervony was born in Manhattan, raised in Montgomery and graduated from Auburn with her bachelor of science in human science and family studies. She also has a master’s in public health.
“The curriculum and this program that we’re planning has helped me practice some skills in health program planning and evaluation and so, I’m really looking forward to it,” Chervony said.
She said the academy will work with the student so they’re confident toward pursuing a health career and improve their attitudes toward health careers and their engagement with health information.