Students connect to health careers

Staff reports
CLAHEC staff conducts health careers presentations to more than 70 high schools in its 17-parish region. Pictured, Rhandi Austin of Gonzales and past program participant, stated that “The ‘Day with the Doctors’ program provided me with a glimpse into some of the things I would see in the medical field. The experience definitely reinforced my dreams of becoming a physician. Then, the ‘Rural Scholars’ Program assisted in providing the ways and means for me to accomplish my goal of getting into medical school.” Austin will begin her first year of medical school at LSUHSC-Shreveport this fall.

Sixty-three out of 64 of Louisiana’s parishes have some classification as a Health Professional Shortage Area with too few primary care physicians. In addition, the state is also experiencing a severe shortage of individuals to provide nursing care.

Recent studies have indicated that at the current rate of workforce production, there will be too few physicians to meet the future needs of communities and the current nursing shortage will continue to worsen over the next 20 years. Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC) is playing a role in addressing workforce shortages by encouraging high school students to pursue health care careers.

CLAHEC staff conducts health careers presentations to more than 70 high schools in its 17-parish region.

During these health career presentations, students are given information on the shortage of health care professionals in the state of Louisiana; information on the various careers and opportunities available to them in the medical field; and information on the health career enticement programs offered by CLAHEC. Through these health career enticement programs, high school students are provided hands-on experience and job shadowing opportunities in different health care professions.

These CLAHEC programs include: “A-HEC of a Summer”, hosted at sixteen hospitals; “A Day with the Doctors”, hosted at LSUHSC-Shreveport and LSUHSC-New Orleans; “CI Healthcare”, hosted at Our Lady of the Lake College; “Nurse Camp”, hosted at Louisiana College; and “Rural Scholars.” The purpose of these programs is to entice students to pursue a health career, to better prepare them and equip them with knowledge as they make decisions affecting their future.

As a result of CLAHEC’s strong recruitment efforts within the Central LA schools systems, approximately 1,700 students have participated in health careers enticement programs.    

After students have participated in a health career program, CLAHEC staff continues to have contact with the students to see if they have pursued a career in health care once they have completed high school. Today, 1,075 past participants have responded to our surveys and 68% of those respondents are either actively pursuing a health career or have entered a health career profession.

CLAHEC’s mission is to increase the number of primary health care professionals and improve access to quality health care for those in rural and underserved communities. CLAHEC strives to accomplish this mission by encouraging those who currently live in these communities to obtain an education in the medical field and come back to live and work in the same community. Identifying, motivating, and recruiting a healthcare workforce, Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center---connecting students to careers for over 17 years.