St. Joseph’s/Candler partnership with Bryan Co. schools gives students unique experience

Published: Aug. 25, 2023 at 4:30 PM EDT
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BRYAN COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - A health care training program that leaders say is one of a kind in Georgia.

St. Joseph’s/Candler announced a multi-tier initiative to bring Bryan County students into the health care field.

Students already learn a lot about science in the classrooms at Richmond Hill School, but an emerging program with St. Joseph’s/Candler will give them hands on experience working side-by-side with health care workers.

Wildcat senior Ayo Awe is one of 40 students in a pilot program that lets him shadow St. Joseph’s/Candler nurses. He’s able to be face-to-face with patients.

“You get to see what type of treatments they go under, what it’s like on a daily basis,” Awe said.

St. Joseph’s/Candler announced an expansion to the program. It will create certification programs for students, lectures from health care experts and eventually have 120 students a semester shadowing health care workers at the two hospitals, according to CEO Paul Hinchey.

“Each one of those practitioners has their own story and when they tell you a story, you get to know the person and they’re going to tell their story and they’re going to tell them about the ups and downs of it and how they got through it,” Hinchey said.

The partnership between SJC and Bryan County schools will also create a simulation lab for students when the new Richmond Hill High school is ready in 2025.

“Any time that you can be a part of something new that has a positive impact on kids and the community, it’s a great thing,” Bryan County Superintendent Paul Brooksher said.

As Georgia faces a health care shortage, Hinchey believes starting students in the field early will help.

In fact, he hopes it will bring more employees to their health care facilities in the works like their building near Heartwood and facilities in Pembroke.

“We’ll build the bricks and mortar but what we are concerned about, so to speak, is getting the talent in Georgia health care workers to work in these buildings.”

Bringing new interest to an industry in need.