July 23, 2024
Pitt County high school students “Chat with a Doc” to learn about health care careers at ECU Health Medical Center

Like many health care organizations across the nation, ECU Health is facing an immense challenge: solving the growing health care workforce shortage.

Through community partnerships, the health system is doing its part to grow its workforce, starting right here in eastern North Carolina.

On March 14 at ECU Health Medical Center, students from several local high schools participated in the Health Sciences Academy event “Chat with a Doc.” Nine physicians from various specialties within ECU Health spoke to the students about their responsibilities, the diverse opportunities in the health care field and the rewarding experiences that come from caring for the people of our communities.

Each physician gave a brief overview of their specialty, and students had the opportunity to ask questions along the way. Dr. Matthew Ledoux, Pediatrician in Chief at Maynard Children’s Hospital, shared his insights as a health care provider with the students.

Pitt County high school students “Chat with a Doc” to learn about health care careers at ECU Health Medical Center
Dr. Matthew Ledoux speaks to students during a Chat with a Doc event through Health Sciences Academy at ECU Health Medical Center.

“I was so excited to participate in ‘Chat with a Doc’. I loved talking about the amazing and incredibly diverse opportunities in medicine. I hope the students were just as excited to hear about the opportunity to spend the rest of their lives helping, supporting and healing members of our community. I can’t imagine doing anything other than practicing pediatrics here in eastern North Carolina.”

The students also had the unique opportunity to tour several areas of the hospital and learn first-hand how they all work together to offer high-quality care for patients. The tours included the echocardiography, electrophysiology and catheterization laboratories at the medical center. Students also got to experience the emergency department, a mock operating room and trauma bays.

Lisa Lassiter, workforce development director for ECU Health, was one of the tour leaders. She expressed her excitement about the potential opportunities that an event like this could bring. “Students are our future, and we want to expose them to as many areas and roles throughout health care as possible so they can make an informed decision on their future career path. We are thankful to the physicians and departments who have given their time to make this event possible and help educate our youth.”

Melanie Thompson, a junior at J.H. Rose High School, shared her takeaways from the “Chat with a Doc” event. “It was great to see the doctors so passionate about what they do in their specialties. It was really nice to see that even though they have a stressful job, they love what they do and are passionate about treating patients here.”

Caleb Spruill, a senior at Pitt County Schools Early College, added that it was exciting to connect with the doctors on a real and personal level. “Not only are they passionate about treating patients, but they’re also just normal people. I’ve always put them on this pedestal, but they are normal people, just like us, who went to medical school and worked hard to achieve their goals. That’s inspiring to see.”

Both Melanie and Caleb shared their gratitude for the opportunities they received from the Health Sciences Academy. Melanie mentioned that the Academy has exposed her to a whole new world of medicine that she was previously unaware of, and it helped her realize that anyone can pursue a career in health care as long as they put in hard work. Caleb emphasized that it’s an excellent way to figure out which career path to take. “It’s a great opportunity for people who aren’t sure if they want to go into medicine. Events like this are foundational for understanding what health care is and learning about all of the different careers in this field. Everyone thinks it’s just doctors and nurses, but there’s so many things you can do.”

The “Chat with a Doc” event is another representation of ECU Health’s commitment to growing health care talent locally. Through the Health Sciences Academy, ECU Health partners with public schools to provide eastern North Carolina’s youth with the education and resources to pursue exciting and fulfilling futures in health care. 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.

The Pitt County 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.

The program is a partnership between 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.

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