HANCEVILLE, Ala. — About two dozen youth from at least five north Alabama counties visited Wallace State Community College this week to find out about the Health Science programs offered at the college.
The students are participants in the North Alabama Area Health Education Center, based out of Huntsville. The coalition offers students in 13 counties access to information about careers in healthcare in an effort to increase the number of students who enter healthcare programs, train in rural and underserved areas and obtain healthcare jobs.
“Our goal is to increase access to healthcare by increasing the number of students who are going into those fields, especially from rural demographics,” said Lamont Dupree, who led the group in their visit to Wallace State. “We need more rural students going back where they grew up to serve.”
Dupree said bringing students to Wallace State expanded their knowledge of the range of career opportunities in the medical field.
“Most of the time when we talk to kids, they know about being a doctor. They know about being a nurse. But they don’t know what else is out there,” Dupree said. Their visit gave them some exposure to other opportunities and information about what it takes to prepare academically for entry into those programs
During their day at Wallace State, the students visited with the Dental Assisting and Dental Hygiene programs, Emergency Medical Services, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Diagnostic Sonography, Nursing and more. The students were able to take part in hands-on activities in the programs they visited.
Michael Jordan, a rising sophomore at Brewer High School, plans to become a physical therapist. “It’s been pretty great,” he said of the center’s program. He said he especially enjoyed touring the colleges across the state.
Alyssa McAnally, a rising senior at Buckhorn High School in Huntsville, is planning to be a nurse and said it was nice to see all the opportunities open to them at Wallace State.
“I’ve enjoyed the hands-on activities we’ve got to see that gives us more of an insight to a particular job,” she said. “I really enjoyed the sonography and pharmacy tech sessions. Seeing the pharmacy tech and seeing how easy it would be to get that while I’m still on the nursing track, get the certification and use that while I’m in school.”
Along with tours of college programs, Dupree said students also participate in projects that highlight the needs in their communities. One group is working on project in a county with high incidents of diabetes, another in a county that doesn’t have enough doctors, one on food security and another on children living in poverty. “They’re working on these real-life issues and they have to come up with strategies to address them,” Dupree said. “Ideally we want them see themselves as answers, whatever the challenges are, see yourself as an answer and envision themselves as saying, hey, I might be the one to change this thing that’s going on.”
“Partnerships such this Health Science Exploration Camp allow us the opportunity to showcase our health science program options to students that might not be aware of the opportunities that exist in health science fields at Wallace State,” said Wallace State Dean of Health Sciences Lisa German, who serves on the AHEC board of directors.
She added that a couple of students stated that they had “found their school” after their campus visit.
For more information about Wallace State’s Health Science programs, visit www.wallacestate.edu or call 256.352.8000.