Louisiana faces a serious shortage of health care professionals. Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC) collaborated with St. Elizabeth Hospital, Ascension Parish School Board and Ascension Catholic High School to bring the “AHEC of a Summer” volunteer program to students in the area. The program is a 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. Elizabeth 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. Elizabeth Parish Hospital is Michelle Desoto, and the program educator is Rory Fore, of St. Amant High School.

The 2016 program participants are Kelsey Brooks, Dutchtown High School; Katelyn Buhler, St. Amant High School; Pamela Carbo, St. Amant High School; Terrence Carlin, Dutchtown High School; Chloe Cashat, Ascension Christian High School; Daja Green, Donaldsonville High School; Bayli Kendrick, East Ascension High School; Victoria Luong, East Ascension High School; Harlee Rowe, Dutchtown High School; Madelyn Stuntz, Home School, Carinne Tyrrell, Dutchtown High School and Natalee Williams, St. Amant High School. 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.