BATON ROUGE - Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC) collaborated with Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and Our Lady of the Lake College to bring the "AHEC of a Summer" program to students in the area. The program is an excellent 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 fifteen days in the summer at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center. "AHEC of a Summer" participants are high school students who have a career interest in the medical profession. The program provides students with the opportunity to participate in health related volunteer work and the freedom to explore career interests in the various fields that comprise the world of health careers. Students rotate through various departments at the hospital to gain hands-on experiences so they can determine for themselves whether or not 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 RMC is Ceil Alonzo, and the program supervisor at OLOL College is Lynn Savoie. The program educator was Jill Coon, Sciences Teacher at Central Private.

The 2013 program participants at OLOLRMC were Anthonica Johnson, My'Iesha Bell and Jameshaulyn Fernandez from Plaquemine HS; Jewell Thomas from White Castle HS; Catherine Broussard from the Louisiana School of Math and Sciences; Kaylee Gaudin from Brusly HS; Bridget Cadigan from the University Lab School; Joshua Campbell from Catholic High of Baton Rouge; Obinna Chike from McKinley HS; Brea Manuel from Dunham; Catherine Morejon, Abby Hudson, and Anastasia Motuzok from Woodlawn HS; Justin Nguyen from Baton Rouge Magnet HS; and Rebekah Ostoj from Bethany Christian. Students were 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. Nan Ewing, program coordinator, states that "this program is an excellent tool for students to enhance their understanding of many different healthcare fields and also to get some real-life experiences that will help them determine if a career in healthcare is right for them."