Healthcare Career Pipeline
The E&H School of Health Sciences (SHS) and School of Nursing (SON) recently received a one-year renewal grant for $25,000 from the Ballad Health Foundation and the Smyth County Hospital HealthTrust to support the development of a sustainable workforce pipeline for preparing Smyth County public school students for careers in nursing and other healthcare professions. The HealthTrust exists as a philanthropic arm and nonprofit fundraising organization for Smyth County Community Hospital.
“We are excited to put this grant to work for Southwest Virginia by allowing future healthcare workers to train where they live and work,” said Dawn Archer, chairperson of the HealthTrust. “We know Ballad Health is committed to working to improve the future of the region, and investing in educational training sets local communities up for a healthy, happy future. It’s been a pleasure to work with Emory & Henry and the Smyth County School Board as we inspire local students to join the healthcare profession and build their lives and careers.”
“We are very excited to work collaboratively with our partners from the Smyth County public schools to help raise awareness among elementary, middle and high school students of the many healthcare career options open to them, and to increase their understanding of the educational pathways for pursuing these careers,” said Dr. Lou Fincher, senior vice president and dean of the School of Health Sciences.
Cassie Sheffey, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, a new School of Nursing faculty member, will serve as the point person for establishing baseline data and project benchmarks, conducting further needs assessment, and helping to coordinate formalized programming and other resources that SHS and SON faculty and students will provide to assist administrators, guidance counselors, and faculty members across the Smyth County middle and high schools in growing
the future generations of healthcare professionals.
Dr. Blake Justice, a new faculty member in the E&H Department of Physical Therapy and assistant dean in the School of Health Sciences, also will assist with this pipeline project, coordinating field trips and hands-on experiential opportunities for elementary, middle and high school students on the E&H Health Sciences Campus in Marion. Plans also are underway to expand the successful E&H summer healthcare career camps for rising high school juniors and seniors to include early experiential opportunities for middle school students. Ballad Health also has pledged to provide opportunities for shadowing and mentorships to further strengthen the healthcare career pipeline.
“Emory & Henry is committed to the growth and economic development of this region,” said Dr. Laurie Anne Ferguson, founding dean of the E&H School of Nursing. “Our commitment includes a focus on preparing future nurses, clinical mental health counselors, and other healthcare professionals to address the rural healthcare needs and workforce shortages in this region,” she continued.