Thursday, February 20, 2020

South Carolina AHEC Scholars Program Welcomes New Scholars


The South Carolina AHEC Scholars Program seeks to encourage and prepare tomorrow’s health professionals to become leaders in interprofessional, transformative practice for rural and underserved areas. The program, now in its second year, recently welcomed its latest Scholars with a statewide orientation. South Carolina AHEC Health Professions Student (HPS) coordinators from all four regional centers hosted the students in-person in Charleston and Columbia as well as online, using videoconference technology to connect the groups.

New Scholars in attendance highlighted the program’s interprofessional and inter-institutional focus: of the 18 students in attendance, they represented six professions (MD, nurse practitioner, PharmD, physical therapy, physician assistant, and social work) and two academic institutions (MUSC and UofSC).

Scholars were engaged and excited to be a part of the program. Katherine Olsen, a UofSC PharmD student elaborated: “I feel that the AHEC Scholars Program has been extremely influential during my time in pharmacy school.  I have grown to have a further appreciation of other disciplines as well as help rural communities in South Carolina, which is one of my favorite aspects of the program!”

“We have been very pleased with our AHEC Scholars program,” explained Stephanie Flowers, Pee Dee AHEC HPS coordinator, “Our first two cohorts are a diverse, interprofessional group of students who are actively engaged in making an impact in rural primary care for our state. They have been working diligently while in the program and their energy is sure to empower them once in the field!”

To learn more about the South Carolina AHEC Scholar Program, please visit our website. In addition, find out more about regional HPS programming by contacting the regional HPS coordinators via their respective websites: Emily Warren and Kimbley Stephens at Lowcountry AHEC, Casey Cato and Julie Ghent at Mid-Carolina AHEC, Lance Butler and Stephanie Flower at Pee Dee AHEC and Tina Fulton at Upstate AHEC.

Partnering to Encourage Future Health Professionals

Mid-Carolina AHEC’s Health Careers Program (HCP) is proud to announce a continued partnership with Prisma Health Richland. Recently, Mid-Carolina AHEC HCP students had the chance to participate in a reality-based education program that introduces adolescents to the Level 1 Trauma Center through Project READY, Prisma Health Richland’s community outreach program.
Lara Peck, program coordinator for Project READY, begins the session with a presentation explaining various behaviors that lead to traumatic injury. The presentation included a brief anatomy lesson of various body parts, such as the brain and spinal cord, that might be impacted in a trauma event. Students also met a presenter who experienced a traumatic injury as a child, leaving her lower body paralyzed. The presenter shared her story about her accident and experience as a patient and gave the students the opportunity to ask questions about her experience and how she lives her daily life.  
Later students were able to take a tour of the Prisma Health Trauma Center. Nurses met with the students, explaining various procedures and allowed students to get acquainted with the equipment used to treat injuries. After visiting the trauma bay, students were able to observe how an operating room was prepared for surgery. They concluded their tour with a visit to the morgue and then a trip to the physical therapy level where students had the chance to experience what it’s like to be a patient recovering from a trauma event. 
“Throughout the course of this program, I was overwhelmed with many emotions,” explained HCP student Selby A.. “Participating in Project READY gave me a great sense of accomplishment. I have numerous goals that I want to achieve before college and programs that introduce various careers is a wonderful opportunity.
The 2019-2020 Health Careers Program students and Mid-Carolina AHEC would like to extend gratitude to the Prisma Health Richland Project READY coordinator and medical staff for their dedication to community outreach and student education.  Find out more about Mid-Carolina AHEC’s Health Careers Program online.

The Health Professions Pipeline in Action

In 2002, Stacey Price was a medical laboratory technician seeking to advance her career by pursuing a Bachelor of Science in health science at the Medical University of South Carolina. As a health professions student, she participated in Lowcountry AHEC’s South Carolina Rural Interprofessional Program of Training (SCRIPT).
Fast forward to 2020 and Stacey is working with Lowcountry AHEC, teaching health professionals phlebotomy as well as volunteering to share her knowledge and experience in clinical laboratory science with high schools students in the Health Careers Program. She is a positive role model and partner for AHEC stating, “Lowcountry AHEC and the SCRIPT program enriched my knowledge while encouraging me to share my skills within my rural community.” It is people like Stacey that make our AHEC pipeline work!
To find out more about Lowcountry AHEC's programming, please visit their website.

Upstate AHEC Employees Earn Mental Health First Aid Certifications

Upstate AHEC Continuing Professional Development
Coordinator Lauren Taylor with Mental Health First Aid
Instructors Krissi Raines and Brittany Alga
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is a globally recognized program that originated in Australia in 2001. Participants can become certified in youth or adult MHFA through an eight-hour course in which they learn skills to help someone with a mental illness or someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. Trained first-aiders are then able to use skills and techniques learned during the training to provide aid to someone in need until appropriate professional treatment and support can be arranged.

Adults spend roughly a third of their adult lives working, and having employees complete a program like MHFA can be essential in creating a mentally healthy workplace in which individuals feel valued, supported and respected. Many workplaces have an automated external defibrillator (AED) and have trained their staff on how to use it properly. Staff generally know when and how to summon emergency help for a physical ailment. However, they are actually more likely to come in contact with someone having a mental health crisis than they are someone having a heart attack.

While Upstate AHEC has supported MHFA programs in rural communities of the upstate, recently Upstate AHEC staff members recognized the importance of this skillset by participating in the training program themselves. Now team members can use the skills they learned through MHFA both in and outside the workplace. After completing the trainings, Upstate AHEC staff reported an increased confidence in assisting someone who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. Staff members have also found strategies learned in the MHFA programs useful in dealing with their own personal emotions and challenges as well.

I am pleased that Upstate AHEC’s staff had the opportunity to become Mental Health First Aid certified by taking advantage of our continuing professional development team’s Mental Health First Aid courses,” explained Upstate AHEC executive director Nita Donald. “The Mental Health First Aid training courses teach participants to be aware and notice signs and symptoms of mental health and substance use disorders.”

More information about Mental Health First Aid is available online. Information about other upcoming continuing professional development courses is available on the Upstate AHEC website.