Education is something I highly value. I know that throughout my career, I am going to take advantage of opportunities to supplement my education with whatever I can find in order to continue to advance in the health industry. Learning new skills keeps work interesting.
What I found in the Delta was that community health centers and hospitals encouraged and supported their employees going back to school. As the CEO of Aaron E. Henry Community Health Services Center Aurelia Jones-Taylor said, “we like our employees home grown.” I can’t tell you how many times during a tour, our guide would stop and point out an employee who had just finished a degree or program of study. There was a lot of joy in those interaction. In addition, a lot of cross-training also goes on (for example nurses learning how to use x-ray machines). This has two purposes: to make sure the center or hospital is covered in case of staff changes and also to further the employee’s education. Staffing can be a concern in this region, because it is hard to find medical professionals willing to move to this rural area.
That is why programs like New Pathways are so important. Teaching students about careers in healthcare, as well as supporting them academically keeps this home grown tradition going. The New Pathways program does not require these students to stay in the Delta, but I would be interested to see if graduates choose to stay and work in this area. One thing is for sure, the healthcare systems that I witnessed would be willing to help them grow in any direction they choose.