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More than 100 ninth grade students from Pitt County Schools and Duplin County Schools attended ECU Health’s career fair for Health Sciences Academy students on March 2. Over 20 hospital departments and exhibitors from partners including Pitt Community College and Beaufort County Community College attended the event which included interactive and creative booths to educate students on different health care careers.

“Health Sciences Academy offers high school students the opportunity to explore different careers in health care and receive real experiences in the health care setting,” said Nancy Turner, program coordinator, Workforce Development, ECU Health. “Presenters in the career fair were able to tell students their career path, including where they went to school, how long degree programs take and degree/certification requirements for their careers.”

The Pitt County Health Sciences Academy is a partnership between ECU Health, Pitt County Schools, Pitt Community College, East Carolina University, the Brody School of Medicine, Colleges of Allied Health Sciences, Engineering and Nursing at East Carolina University, School of Dental Medicine at East Carolina University, the Eastern Area Health Education Center and the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce.

A local student learns about the health care profession from an ECU Health team member during a career fair for Health Sciences Academy students.

The Health Sciences Academy originally launched at six high schools in Pitt County in 2000 and has expanded across schools in Pitt County and in Duplin County. Last year alone, 282 students completed the program and were awarded more than $3.9 million in scholarships to help on their health care career journeys. Those students completed 106,225 volunteer hours at ECU Health.

“Health Sciences Academy allows for ECU Health to develop our workforce locally with students who are passionate about health care and helping people,” said Turner. “One of the most exciting things about the career fair was seeing a former Health Sciences Academy student who volunteered at the hospital and graduated from the program. She completed nursing school at Pitt Community College and ECU. She is now a pediatric nurse at ECU Health and managed a booth at the career fair to tell students about her experience. It truly has come full circle.”

During high school, Health Sciences Academy students complete a minimum of six courses that expose them to potential health care careers and prepare students to pursue college-level health science programs upon graduation. They participate in job shadowing, mentoring, internships, medical research opportunities, career exploration and volunteering.

Students say they participate in the program because they have an interest in working in health care. The career fair taught some students about health care careers they had never heard of or considered. The ninth graders who attended the career fair will soon have the opportunity to volunteer and shadow in those fields.

“Many students here in Pitt County and in Duplin County attend community college and universities locally and end up staying and working at ECU Health,” said Turner. “We are really growing our own workforce. That’s why we created Health Sciences Academy.”

To learn more about Health Sciences Academy in Pitt County Schools, please click here; for Duplin County Schools, please click here.