Genesee Community College's Tech Prep Health Careers Academy

Genesee Community College was recently notified that its College Tech Prep Health Careers Academy, which is a collaborative learning opportunity with three regional hospitals including Batavia's VA Hospital, won the Exemplary Worksite Learning Award from the National Tech Prep Network / Caterpillar, Inc. The Health Careers Academy will be recognized with two other organizations at the National Tech Prep Networking Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 13-16, 2004.

The program, which is a partnership between Genesee Community College, College Tech Prep and Genesee Valley (GV) BOCES, started in September 2001, and features an educational-business partnership with the Veteran's Administration of Western New York Healthcare System. The Health Careers Academy was designed to provide a rigorous academic program that included quality, hands-on learning experiences for secondary students, helping to nurture meaningful careers in the heathcare industry.

Batavia's VA Hospital was the first to enthusiastically endorse the program by renovating appropriate classroom space in preparation for a significant range of healthcare related courses to be taught on hospital grounds. Human anatomy, physiology, personal health and wellness, current health topics, human development, legal and ethical issues, leadership and communication skills, and medical terminology are among the courses taught within the Health Careers Academy. Participants who successfully complete the Academy earn 15 college credits, which are transferable to all State University of New York institutions and also to most colleges nationwide. The students are also certified in First Aid and CPR.

The immediate success of the program has led to its expansion to other regional hospitals including, Noyes Memorial Hospital in Dansville, and Wyoming County Community Hospital in Warsaw. In addition to the hospital classroom sites, students have opportunities for job shadowing and internships at a wide variety of private practices and facilities, as well as at United Memorial Medical Center. While the inaugural first class of the Health Care Academy had 12 students, 46 students were enrolled in the program across the three sites this past academic year.

In addition to steady growth of student enrollment, student performance is also noteworthy. Almost fifty percent of Health Academy students earn perfect attendance, the majority are eligible for the Vocation-Technical Honor Society, and many students graduate among the top ten percent of their home school.

As with other GV BOCES programs, students attend their home schools for one half of the school day and are at one of the three hospital sites for the remainder of the day. "Having these high school students at our facility on a regular basis is a wonderful experience for our staff and patients" said Jo Louise Wilkes, Education Director of the VA. "Their enthusiasm and desire to learn about the various health care professions is amazing."

"Receiving this national award is a great honor, and we are grateful to everyone involved in the Health Careers Academy who helped make it happen. This includes the hard-working students and their parents, the dedicated faculty, the hospital administrators, and recently retired College Tech Prep Director, Kathy Lopes, whose commitment to the program helped make it happen," Debbie Dunlevy, Project Director, for Genesee Region College Tech Prep said. "This is really a win-win-win scenario. Through this national recognition, we hope the success of our Health Careers Academy will encourage other Tech Prep programs around the nation to embark on a similar initiative."

The award carries a $1,000 cash prize for the program and expenses for one person to attend the 2004 NTPN Conference in October to receive the award. Attendees from the program, including Jo Louise Wilkes (VA Hospital), Marilyn Gross (GV BOCES principal), and Donna Thompson (Academy Instructor) along with Debbie Dunlevy, will have the opportunity to make a one-hour presentation on the program during the conference. Caterpillar Inc. is the award's sponsor and submissions were judged on program overview, professional development and experiences, business involvement, and results.

College Tech Prep, a federally funded program operated by Genesee Community College, is designed to help students make a smooth transition from high school to college. The project currently works with 19 high schools in the Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming (GLOW) county region offering a wide range of programs to encourage student interest in college and enhance their career development. The Health Careers Academy is among numerous programs whereby College Tech Prep provides hands-on learning activities, increases awareness of career and business opportunities, and engages students in decision-making processes while developing technical skills.

For further information, please contact Debbie Dunlevy, Project Director at 585-343-0055 extension 6316.

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