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Erich Grant of Randolph-Macon College makes a presentation to Alleghany High School and Covington High School students on Oct. 28, 2022. Alleghany Highlands Public Schools and Randolph-Macon have partnered to create a pilot program called Advanced Healthcare Pathways. It’s designed to give high school students an in-depth look at medical career options that require advanced education and training. (AHPS Photo)

AHPS Providing Students with In-Depth Look at Medical Careers

Low Moor, VA (Nov. 10, 2022) - Alleghany Highlands Public Schools and Randolph-Macon College are partnering to provide high school students with an in-depth look at medical careers that require advanced education and specializations. 

Twenty-four students from Alleghany High School and Covington High School attended an initial session of the Advanced Healthcare Pathways Program on Oct. 28, 2022. The initial session, led by Erich Grant and Christi Hughes of Randolph-Macon, was held at the AHS library.

“We are here to give students knowledge of the medical careers that are available in Virginia,” said Grant, who serves as the Physician Assistant Department chair and program director at Randolph-Macon, a private, liberal arts college located in Ashland.

“We have shaped this Advanced Healthcare Pathways program to help high school students as much as possible in making career decisions, plus we want to be a trusted resource for them,” Grant said.

Grant joined the Randolph-Macon College faculty in 2020 after spending 16 years as a faculty member at the Wake Forest School of Medicine PA Program. Randolph-Macon’s PA program plans to enroll its first class in January 2023. 

In Alleghany Highlands Public Schools, the Advanced Healthcare Pathways partnership with Randolph-Macon College is aligned with the school division’s Alleghany Highlands Healthcare Advancement (AHHA) initiative. AHHA assists students in exploring health sciences careers. The initiative is being used to help high school students earn their diploma, industry certification, and an associate degree from a community college.

But the Advanced Healthcare Pathways Program is geared toward students who are interested in medical careers that require higher levels of education and training. 

“We are extremely grateful to Erich Grant and Chrisi Hughes from Randolph-Macon College for providing this amazing program to our students. The Advanced Healthcare Pathway Program will give AHS and CHS students a unique opportunity to explore multiple high demand healthcare careers. Our students will hear from healthcare providers from across Virginia and learn about the educational pathway to obtain graduate-level healthcare degrees,” said Ginni Phillips, Alleghany Highlands Healthcare Advancement Grant coordinator for AHPS.

After completing a career-goals survey in the initial session, approximately 33 percent of the AHS and CHS students indicated they are considering becoming occupational therapists, for example. Students were able to select multiple possible future careers under consideration. Other popular career options for the students surveyed included physician assistant, 8 percent; and dentistry, 5 percent. 

Occupational therapists, like many health care professionals, must meet rigorous education and training requirements. To become an occupational therapist, an individual must earn an undergraduate and graduate degrees, and pass required licensure exams. High school students considering occupational therapy as a career can expect to spend six or seven years in school: four years for an undergraduate degree and two to three years for a graduate degree. Advanced Healthcare Pathways is designed to support students in navigating the pathways available ahead of them as they consider these types of career options.  

“We want to provide them with information about these fields and link them to people in fields who can answer their questions,” Grant said.

The Advanced Healthcare Pathways Program will include six sessions. It will culminate with a visit to the Randolph-Macon campus to allow students to immerse themselves in the career they are interested in. Student surveys and candid conversations about student goals for their adult lives are used to facilitate student engagement and provide responsive information to participants.

“I am extremely appreciative of Mrs. Phillips working with Dr. Grant and Ms. Smith of Randolph-Macon College to make this happen. We are very proud to be able to offer this opportunity to our students in both high schools,” said Dwayne Ross, director of secondary education for AHPS.

AHPS recommends that students with serious interest in any branch of health care learn hands-on entry-level health care skills and consider the appropriateness of programs such as Advanced Healthcare Pathways for their interests. Students interested in the program should contact their school counseling office for additional information.  

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