Regional academic leaders from Bristol City, Wythe, Smyth and Washington counties join the Emory & Henry leadership team to ...

Enhancing the Future of Regional Healthcare

Emory & Henry College was among nine partners recently awarded the College Partnership Laboratory School Planning Grant for $200,000 from the Virginia Department of Education in February. It is expected to launch during the 2023-2024 academic year.

Posted July 05, 2023

The proposed Southwest Virginia Healthcare Excellence Academy Laboratory School (SWVA-HEALS) program will be designed to establish a high school career academy for local 10th to 12th graders to serve as a “pipeline” for preparing future healthcare professionals to meet the workforce shortages in Southwest Virginia.

“The college is excited to take the lead in this collaborative partnership to build a sustainable pipeline of students who will support and impact the future health of this region,” said Dr. Lou Fincher, senior vice president and dean of the School of Health Sciences.

The program plans to target 10th, 11th and 12th-grade students from the surrounding rural school divisions interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. It will emphasize increasing high school students’ awareness of, interest in, and preparation for pursuing the education pathways that lead to careers in the nursing and behavioral health professions. The first year of the SWVA-HEALS program will focus on career exploration across the many disciplines of healthcare professions and include active engagement through early career forums and shadowing opportunities. Students will develop an individualized college and career plan during the first half of their 11th-grade year and work closely with faculty and mentors to implement and complete their plan before graduation. Evidence-based teaching and learning strategies will be integrated across the SWVA-HEALS curriculum, emphasizing active and engaged learning.

“The clinical experiences provided by the Emory & Henry School of Health Sciences and School of Nursing will be instrumental as students move toward medical or behavioral health careers,” said Dr. Dennis Carter, ’95, superintendent of Smyth County Schools.

Emory & Henry will offer turnkey facilities for teaching, clinical labs, and patient exam rooms in an interprofessional and interdisciplinary environment. The College and its partners will promote access and sustainability through the K-12 system in the region, private sector, industry and other higher ed connections. The healthcare career-focused coursework in the proposed SWVA-HEALS program will be taught by

an interdisciplinary team of faculty focusing on experiential learning.

The new SWVA-HEALS program will use three locations, including the E&H Health Sciences Campus in Marion, the Henderson School and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. The SWVA-HEALS program will incorporate several dual credit courses and potential certificate options. As a result, this experiential learning model will allow students to graduate high school with college credits, career-related experiences and real-world career preparation.

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