Louisiana faces a serious shortage of health care professionals.  Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC) collaborated with Our Lady of the Lake College A Franciscan University to bring the “AHEC of a Summer” volunteer program to students in the area.

The program is a tool by which students can explore different health care professions and make decisions about their future based on experience and observation. Students are volunteering their time for 15 days in the summer at Our Lady of the Lake College A Franciscan University.  

“AHEC of a Summer” applicants are high school students who have a career interest in the medical profession. The program provides the students with the opportunity to participate in health related experiences and the freedom to explore career interests in the various fields that comprise the world of health careers. The students are visiting the different departments of Our Lady of the Lake College A Franciscan University to gain hands-on experiences so they can determine for themselves whether a health career is a good choice for their future. They are able to obtain knowledge and experience from healthcare professional mentors, field trips, workshops, and guest lecturers. The program supervisor at Our Lady of the Lake College A Franciscan University is Lynn Savoie, and the program educator is Jill Johnson, from Denham Springs Freshman High School.

The 2017 program participants are Mel  Adolfo, Lee Magnet High School; Ana Block, St. Joseph’s Academy; Katie Carville, Caleb Kleinpeter, Cameron Landry, Claire Landry, St. John the Evangelist High School; Dell Dickerson, Jessie Furr, JaMarcus Spears, Central High School; Caleb Jones, Cassie Toups, Iberville  Mathematics, Science and Arts – West  Academy; Gabriel Johnson, Broadmoor High School; Chandi Johnson, Brusly High School; Justice Merrifield, L.S.U Laboratory School; Emily Nichols, Port Allen High School, Maria Osori, Brusly High School, and Diamone Richard, IbervilleMathematics, Science and Arts – East Academy.  Students are chosen on the basis of grades, a written essay, and an interview.  “AHEC of a Summer” is an accredited high school course for one-half unit elective credit.

CLAHEC is a non-profit, community-based agency that serves as a training and information resource for health and education professionals for a 17-parish region.  A primary goal of CLAHEC is to identify local needs and develop programs that will encourage healthcare professionals to practice in rural and underserved communities where their services are urgently needed. Karen McCord, program coordinator, states that “AHEC of a Summer is an essential tool for students to discover if a career in the medical field is right for them.”