North Carolina AHEC Program
fall 2009 newsletter | home

R U n2 Health Careers?

Health care is an ever changing, dynamic field of opportunities with enormous scope. High school students are often not aware of the variety of jobs either directly or indirectly associated with the treatment of illnesses and injuries and the maintenance of good health. On September 29, 2009, over 300 students from 21 high schools gathered to explore health careers at Mountain AHEC’s (MAHEC) 10th Annual Health Careers Education Awareness Conference. The conference is designed to enlighten students, parents, and educators to hundreds of health care occupations that offer local career options.

Health Careers studentsThe conference, hosted by MAHEC’s Department of Health Careers and Diversity Education and the Western North Carolina Regional Advisory Committee, is open to high school students, parents, health occupation and science teachers, school counselors, school administrators, and youth program advocates. The Advisory Committee understands that the more exposure students have to health careers and health professionals, the better the opportunities are for them to use this knowledge and information as the key to opening the door of success. Students need to understand that knowledge is power!

In order to make informed decisions, students must first be informed; and this conference is a unique opportunity to make this happen. In addition to improving awareness of health career opportunities, this conference emphasizes the recruitment of under-represented minorities and disadvantaged students in the health care professions. All students in MAHEC’s sixteen-county region are encouraged to participate in order to heighten their awareness of resources available that can help them move forward in the health care field. The talents and abilities of many people are needed to relieve forecasted shortages in an already overburdened health care system and to address issues of health disparities.

This year students heard a compelling keynote on “Emerging Health Issues in Teens” from Lourdes Lorenz, RN, MSN-IH, AHN-BC, director of integrative healthcare at Mission Hospitals. They could then choose from concurrent sessions ranging on topics from diversity in health care to youth and gang violence. Attendees then gathered to direct questions to a panel of current students in health care careers, with moderator and TV news personality Tammy Watford guiding the discussion. Lunch, health screenings, and an interactive career fair followed.

“I am delighted to have so many talented professionals taking time out to share their wisdom with Western North Carolina students,” said Jacquelyn Hallum, MAHEC’s director of health careers and diversity education. “These are challenging times for our students and they need as many resources as possible in their tool boxes to prepare them for the twenty-first century.”

Health care student panel