HSS to Help Students Better Prepare for Health Sciences Programs

EMS students work to secure a simulated patient to a gurney for transport in an ambulance.

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College has launched a new pilot program to help Pitt County high school students explore and engage with health sciences curricula throughout their senior year.

The PCC Health Sciences Scholars (HSS) program, according to PCC Health Information Technology (HIT) Program Director Ashleigh Walker, is intended to help prospective students better prepare for health sciences enrollment. She said students selected for HSS will have four program options to choose from: HIT, Emergency Medical Science, Medical Assisting and Respiratory Therapy.

“PCC Health Sciences Dean Donna Neal envisioned the Health Sciences Scholars program as a way to engage local high school students with some of our health sciences curricula and help them prepare for entry to those programs, which often have special admissions requirements,” Walker said. “Students who participate in HSS will gain a competitive edge when it comes to health sciences admissions at Pitt.”

Neal explained that some students decide very early in their high school careers to pursue health care professions without having a thorough understanding of what those jobs entail. HSS, she said, is a way for PCC to give those individuals a chance to learn more about health care careers in which they are interested, the commitment necessary for success, and the academic preparation needed to pursue them.

“We want our health sciences applicants to make informed career choices,” Neal said. “That ultimately results in higher retention rates and more health care providers we graduate for the workforce.”

Students interested in HSS must apply to the program during their junior year of high school. The process includes an application, two recommendation letters – including one from a current instructor – an interview, and official transcripts. Applicants must also have an unweighted GPA of 2.8 or higher during the fall of their junior year of high school to be considered.

Those selected to participate in HSS will have an opportunity to shadow a professional in their field of interest for a minimum of eight hours during their senior year of high school. They’ll also work on profession-relevant journal article reviews, interview a professional working in their chosen field, and meet with the director of the PCC health sciences program in which they are interested.

Walker said additional HSS benefits include guaranteed acceptance into their respective scholars program once they have met all PCC admissions requirements, first choice for clinical placement, first choice for program course sections when more than one is offered, and a set of scrubs, lab coat and nametag to wear during career shadowing.

“Health Sciences Scholars is a unique and fantastic opportunity for high school students to learn from working professionals in the health care field and at PCC,” Walker said. “It’s an experience that will put them in an ideal position for success in a PCC health sciences program.”

Walker said Pitt wanted to start HSS in the fall of 2020 but had to put those plans on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic. This fall, she said, the college intends to market the program to juniors at each Pitt County high school.

High school juniors can apply for HSS participation during the 2022 Spring Semester. The application deadline is Feb. 28, Walker said, adding that interviews would be conducted in March and April. Those selected for HSS admission will be notified by April 30, 2022.

For more information regarding the HSS program at PCC, students can email PCCHSscholars@email.pittcc.edu.