Seminar paves way for healthcare careers

By Dr. Jessica Harley, DNP, FNP-C and Dr. Rebecca Allen-Jones

In a bold move to reshape the future of rural education and healthcare, a groundbreaking initiative is taking root in Crenshaw County. The High School 2 Healthcare seminar is set to revolutionize the opportunities for local high school students by introducing them to the world of healthcare and nursing careers.

With well-established roots in Luverne, Dr. Jessica Harley and Dr. Rebecca Allen-Jones know first-hand the need for students to practice healthcare in rural communities. As 2004 graduates, they are able to showcase to students the idea that small town does not mean small work.

The driving force behind this visionary initiative is the idea of empowerment. Harley saw the untapped potential within our local youth and recognized the need to provide them with access to the information and guidance necessary to embark on a career in healthcare.

The goal is to inspire and empower the next generation of healthcare professionals within the community.
“Healthcare is a dynamic and diverse field, and marginalized students in rural communities should be able to explore it with confidence,” Harley said. “We aim to spark their interest and connect them with the resources and mentors that can help them realize their potential.”

Supporting this mission is Allen-Jones, whose extensive experience in healthcare and nursing education has made her a valuable partner in bringing this seminar to fruition. She believes that, by introducing students to healthcare careers early on, professionals not only open doors for students but also address the growing need for local talent in the healthcare sector.

“In many rural areas, access to information about healthcare careers has been a challenge,” she said. “For students who dream of making a difference in the healthcare sector, the path to realization often seems obscure. That’s where the High School 2 Healthcare seminar comes in, aiming to bridge this gap by connecting aspiring healthcare professionals with the guidance and resources they need.”

The motivation behind this initiative is twofold. First, it seeks to empower local high school students with knowledge about the plethora of healthcare career options available to them. From nursing to pharmacy, physical therapy to non-clinical options, the seminar will expose students to a wide range of possibilities they might not have previously considered. The goal is to inspire, guide, and empower the next generation of healthcare professionals from the community.

Secondly, the seminar is a testament to the power of collaboration. Harley and Allen-Jones have tirelessly worked to build a platform where high schools, healthcare organizations, colleges, and professionals can network and collaborate. Throughout the conference they, along with their classmate Dr. Alisha Hilburn, shared their personal experiences of becoming nurses and giving back to the community that helped to shape them. Partnerships with esteemed institutions such as Lurleen B. Wallace (LBW) Community College and Troy University have brought forth a wealth of expertise, enriching the event’s content and educational value. The dedication of organizations like GirlTrek has added a dynamic perspective on wellness and community health, emphasizing the importance of holistic well-being.

Alabama Southeast region Area Health Education Center’s (AHEC) participation has further solidified the event’s reach and impact, connecting students with the broader healthcare community and the vast array of opportunities that lie within it. This collective effort, representing a diverse spectrum of healthcare specialties and organizations, reinforces the notion that the future of healthcare is bright, thanks to the collaboration and shared vision of all those involved.

The seminar offers a holistic approach, bringing in healthcare experts, nurses, and industry leaders to share their insights, experiences, and expertise. These professionals serve as mentors, guiding students through the intricacies of the healthcare field.

Interactive workshops, real-world scenarios, and hands-on experiences immerse the students in the world of healthcare, helping them understand the pivotal roles they can play. Another key feature of the seminar is its commitment to promoting health equity.

Understanding that healthcare access is often a challenge in rural communities, the program stresses the importance of addressing disparities in healthcare delivery and nurturing a sense of social responsibility among future healthcare professionals.

As Harley and Allen-Jones continue to work diligently to make this dream a reality, the community is buzzing with anticipation for the positive change this initiative promises to bring. One significant development is that organizers have plans to turn High School 2 Healthcare into a non-profit organization, cementing their commitment to the long-term well-being and expansion of this initiative and its ability to serve the community. The High School 2 Healthcare seminar is not just an event; it is a symbol of hope, opportunity, and a commitment to a brighter, healthier future for rural youth.