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New Health Science Pathway With Education Partners

Albany, GA | April 11, 2022 – Phoebe, in cooperation with multiple education partners, is launching a new program to attract more students to careers in healthcare and help them complete their education quicker, so they can enter the workforce earlier.

“The healthcare workforce shortage – particularly in nursing – is no longer just a problem, it is a crisis.  There are nearly 30,000 open nursing positions in Georgia now, and that number continues to increase.  We cannot reverse the trends that led to this crisis without thinking outside the box and working with multiple partners to create innovative programs right away,” said Scott Steiner, Phoebe Putney Health System President & CEO.

The Phoebe Health Science Pathway builds on existing partnerships by creating a specialized curriculum that will allow students at the Commodore Conyers College & Career (4C) Academy to begin working as certified nursing assistants (CNA) at Phoebe while still in high school.  They will have the chance to complete their core college courses through dual enrollment as high school students so, upon graduation, they can go straight into the nursing program at either Albany State University (ASU) or Albany Technical College (ATC).

“We are already reaching out to eighth grade students and their parents to let them know about the benefits of this unique program,” said Chris Hatcher, 4C Academy CEO.  “When school starts next fall, we hope to have more than 100 students enrolled in the pathway, putting them on a path to a successful and well-paying career, serving the healthcare needs of people right here in southwest Georgia.”

With support and guidance from the Southern Regional Education Board, a Georgia-based nonprofit organization that works to improve public education at every level in 16 states, Phoebe worked closely with leaders at 4C, ASU, ATC, the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE), the University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) over the last year to create this program.  The partners created course standards that ensure students meet all requirements for high school graduation and include courses that will be accepted by both USG and TCSG, to ensure a seamless transition to nursing programs for students.

“This was an industry-driven initiative originated by Phoebe, but it took incredible commitment from all the partner institutions to make this a reality, and I am exceedingly proud of their work,” said Barbara Wall, EdD, GaDOE Director of Career, Technical and Agricultural Education.  “We have created a unique program that will have a major impact on healthcare workforce development in southwest Georgia, but it is also replicable.  We believe the Phoebe Health Science Pathway can serve as a model for other regions of Georgia – and the entire country – and lead to many other partnerships to address the critical nursing shortage,” Dr. Wall added.

Phoebe is already working with Lee County High School, Georgia Southwestern State University and South Georgia Technical College to create a pathway for Lee County students to the nursing programs at those two colleges in neighboring Sumter County.  That pathway should also be ready to launch next fall.

A student who sticks with the program could earn certification as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) during his or her 11th grade year and have the opportunity to work as a CNA through a paid internship at Phoebe during his or her 12th grade year.  “That CNA pipeline will enhance care and service for patients at Phoebe by providing valuable help for our nursing staff.  It also gives those students an incredible jumpstart to a nursing career,” said Tracy Suber, EdD, Phoebe Vice President of Education.  “The hands-on patient care experience they gain will be incomparable.  When they enter nursing school, not only will they be younger than the typical student, they will be more prepared for the rigors of the coursework and clinical training,” she added.

Students in the Phoebe Health Science Pathway will also have professional learning opportunities in the Phoebe Simulation & Innovation Center, and Phoebe will help health science teachers prepare students for testing, such as nursing pre-entrance exams and CNA certification.

“We are in this for the long haul,” Steiner said.  “We are investing in the future of young people in southwest Georgia and in workforce development in our region.  We know those investments will pay off by creating a reliable pipeline of prepared and dedicated workers who want to serve their families, friends and neighbors here at home.”

Learn more about Phoebe Health Science Pathway:
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PHOTO: Phoebe Health Science Pathway launch ceremony group photo includes representatives from 4C Academy, Albany Technical College, Southern Regional Education Board, GADOE, Albany State University, Dougherty County School System and Phoebe.