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2018 South Carolina AHEC Excellence Awards

Gateway Award

The South Carolina AHEC Gateway Award recognizes individuals who are committed to furthering the development of future health professionals and are distinguished in their service to students in the health careers pipeline. This year’s Gateway Award recipient is Jay Blankenship MBA, HRV.

Mr. Blankenship works for the South Carolina Department of Commerce and has partnered with Upstate AHEC for more than eight years. He has contributed his time, talent, and resources to Upstate AHEC’s Health Careers Program in various ways, funding projects for HCP’s high school students such as college tours, SAT/ACT workshops, student scholarships, healthcare literacy projects and workforce-readiness workshops for high school and college students across the Upstate. Mr. Blankenship was also responsible for providing classroom sets of literature to HCP’s high school and college students. Through his work at the South Carolina Department of Commerce and Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Youth Advisory Council, Jay has also been very instrumental in strategically aligning community partnerships for Upstate AHEC including the Hispanic Alliance, Fox News, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Goodwill Industries.  

Mr. Blankenship has roots in South Carolina: he graduated from South Carolina State University with a B.S in Marketing as well as an M.A and M.B.A from Webster University. He has a passion for closing gaps in underrepresented and underserved minority communities and believes that all people are created equal and should be afforded the opportunity to receive a quality education, become self-sufficient and be economically successful. He actively participates in building a strong future healthcare workforce in South Carolina. He is intentional in including Upstate AHEC’s eleven counties and beyond by providing tangible resources and current information for student success and for that we recognize him as this year’s Gateway Award recipient.

Practice of the Year Award

The South Carolina AHEC Practice of the Year Award recognizes practices and training sites that exhibit exemplary dedication to the teaching of health professions students and a commitment to serving their communities. The South Carolina AHEC recognizes Beaufort Memorial Harrison Peeples Health Care Center as the 2017 Practice of the Year. 

Established in 1991, the Harrison Peeples Health Care Center provides a full range of general adult and pediatric outpatient medical care from diagnosis and treatment to case management and total coordination of care across the life spectrum. The 24-member staff includes board-certified family medicine physicians, a board-certified internist, a physician assistant, family medicine nurse practitioners and a pediatric nurse practitioner.

Lowcountry AHEC health professions students have benefited from a wide variety of experiences with the Harrison Peeples team. The providers give students practical experience and a true taste of the family practice needs. Each year the practitioners and staff volunteer to provide hours of clinical education to students from various health professions programs. In fact, the site has been precepting for Lowcountry AHEC since 1994 when Dr. Shealy was a preceptor with the South Carolina Rural Interdisciplinary Program of Training (SCRIPT).  From June 2016 through December 2017, the Harrison Peeples team precepted eleven MUSC student rotations.

It is evident that the team at Beaufort Memorial Harrison Peeples Health Care Center enjoys assisting the students with their growth and development. They believe that supporting future health care providers in each of their roles is paramount to their community’s success. This community-based education provides students with opportunities to grow and serve. It is their dedication to the education of the next generation of health professionals that allows their students to be better prepared to excel in health care. 

Preceptor of the Year Award

The South Carolina AHEC Preceptor of the Year Award recognizes unwavering commitment to health professions students’ clinical education. This award distinguishes an outstanding community-based preceptor serving South Carolina health professions students. Each year practitioners volunteer to provide hours of clinical education to students from various professions. It is their dedication to the education of the next generation of health professionals that we honor with this award. This year’s Preceptor of the Year is William A. Chinery, MD.

Dr. William A. Chinery has 25 years’ experience as a pediatrician and ten years’ experience as an educator. He is a strong supporter of giving back to his profession and does so as an exemplary preceptor in the area of pediatrics. He is an advocate for one of our most vulnerable populations—infants/children, as well as the family units supporting these children. When asked his willingness to support interprofessional simulation training on USC Lancaster’s regional campus, Dr. Chinery was one of the first physicians to say “YES” and “WHEN.”  He is an AHEC coordinator’s model preceptor!

According to one student:
He is an exceptionally rare educator with a kindness and passion that are at a level above and beyond what is expected. He makes a conscious effort to dedicate time to answer and explain any questions that may be asked to him. Additionally, he empowers students to become active participants in all the aspects of the patient’s care—from working side by side with him to one-on-one with the staff to run diagnostic tests. 

Dr. Chinery has the unique ability to assist students in advancing their professional learning outcomes while enhancing their ability to connect to and build relationships with patients, families and communities. Students leave Dr. Chinery’s practice with a desire to elevate their professional development with new information and skills. Dr. Chinery challenges his students to not only become truly engaged in the health and welfare of the patient, but to become advocates for them as well.  He is a consummate professional, an exceptional preceptor and a joy to work with.

Educator of the Year Award

The South Carolina AHEC Educator of the Year Award recognizes excellence in instructors of continuing professional development in the South Carolina AHEC System. The Educator of the Year is selected based on their ability to present content in a practical, useful format that meets the needs and expectations of the program participants while communicating the material enthusiastically. Educators must also successfully adapt presentations to address multiple learning styles. This year’s Educator of the Year Award recognizes Patricia Moran, MSN, RN, CPAN.

Ms. Moran wears many hats: she is the clinical nurse educator in the post anesthesia care unit at Palmetto Health Richland, adjunct faculty with the University of South Carolina, and most importantly, she is a wife and mother. Since 2006, Trish has worked side by side with Mid-Carolina AHEC to identify, develop and administer continuing professional development programs focused on improving and enhancing nursing education from the bedside to management and leadership. She is always eager to share her knowledge, experience and passion with health professionals in our state.  

She has always received positive feedback from the participants.  Participants from past programs noted her use of illustrations and cases as useful teaching tools for keeping the class focused and interesting. They remark on her excellent instructional skills and participant engagement. Mid-Carolina looks forward to continued partnership with Ms. Moran.

Michel Porter AHEC Ambassador Award

The Michel Porter AHEC Ambassador Award is presented to a South Carolina AHEC staff member who has made a major contribution to the enhancement of the South Carolina AHEC by exhibiting excellence in the following categories: attitude, helpfulness, empowerment and creativity. This year, South Carolina AHEC is proud to bestow the award to Mid-Carolina AHEC Center Director Cheri Plyler.

Cheri joined Mid-Carolina AHEC as center director in 2001. Prior to that, she served as associate director for Catawba-Wateree AHEC. She is an active National AHEC Organization member serving on the Education Committee, center directors peer mentoring and peer review panels for both the Model AHEC and Bioterrorism Projects. Her current board appointments include Lancaster County’s Partners for Youth, Diabetes Education Center and Upper Midlands Rural Health Network.

Cheri was nominated in recognition for serving as a role model for staff, where she tirelessly works to serve the AHEC mission, vision and goals every day. She provides exemplary and quality leadership where she leads by example with her positive attitude, strategic collaboration and creative thinking and spirit. One letter of support for the award recognized her as “the most hardworking and the most helpful person that I can imagine working with in the whole system of AHEC” and that “there has never been a problem that I have had that she did not help me with.”  Subsequent letters emphasized that Cheri “is very passionate about her work, demonstrating a lot of enthusiasm about the importance of education in the healthcare community.” That enthusiasm, passion and helpfulness are just part of the reasons why Cheri Plyler is 2018’s Michele Porter AHEC Ambassador Award winner.

Congratulations to this year’s award recipients!


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