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Eastern AHEC receives $145,926 for Health Sciences Academy of Pitt County

(Aug. 6, 2003)   —   A broad-based initiative to boost math and science skills of students in Pitt County Schools as they prepare for careers in health care will receive $145,926 in first-year funding from The Duke Endowment.

The Eastern Area Health Education Center in Greenville was awarded the grant funds to support the Health Sciences Academy of Pitt County, which begins Aug. 11 in Pitt County Schools.

First-year funding from The Duke Endowment will pay for the academy's director, a counselor and a program assistant, while providing administrative and curriculum support for the academy's initial 215 students from the county's six high schools.

The program begins this month for ninth graders and will expand each subsequent year to tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders, respectively. By fall 2006, the academy is scheduled to encompass students in grades 9-12 in all Pitt County high schools.

"Eastern AHEC is pleased to receive this funding from The Duke Endowment for the Health Sciences Academy, a program that will help us stem the growing shortages of health care providers at all levels of the workforce," said Dr. Stephen Willis, Eastern AHEC director. "We feel the academy will serve as a model for other communities throughout our state and the nation. Eastern AHEC looks forward to being a part of this partnership as these students begin a new and exciting curriculum."

Debbie Ramey, director of Allied Health Education for Eastern AHEC, will serve as chief investigator for the grant. Randy Collier, retired vocational education director with Pitt County Schools, will serve as the academy's director. Collier was hired by University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, parent corporation of Pitt County Memorial Hospital, in July 2001 to spearhead the planning for the academy.

The Health Sciences Academy of Pitt County is a public-private partnership between Pitt County Schools, University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, Eastern AHEC, Pitt Community College, the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce and the East Carolina University Division of Health Sciences.

"We feel this program is a sound investment in our young people's future," said Dr. Mike Priddy, Pitt County Schools superintendent. "It's a perfect fit for an area of the state where the commitment to provide the best health care is always at the forefront. We're positive the results of this creative partnership will have a lasting effect on our community for years to come."

The academy's objective is to enhance math and science skills among all levels of high school students and to encourage them to enter health careers upon graduation or as they begin their college studies. Mentors will be assigned to academy students as they follow a curriculum pathway designed to give them the academic background needed for additional education or training.

Academy courses will be taught via distance learning, and students may choose a curriculum in one of four different pathways. These are therapeutic, diagnostic, information services and environmental services.

The therapeutic cluster focuses on medicine, nursing, pharmacy, respiratory therapy, physical therapy and radiologic technology. The diagnostic cluster encompasses radiology, sonography and medical or clinical laboratory technology. In the information service track, students will learn about health care management, finance and health information management. The environmental services cluster targets food technology, nutrition, housekeeping and plant and facility operations.

Dave McRae, UHS chief executive officer, sees the academy as an investment in the youth of Pitt County while also addressing the staffing shortages that health care institutions across the state and nation are facing. In recent years, the health system has spent more than $1 million on recruiting nurses from across the Un


Contact: ECU News Bureau | 252-328-6481