A new Atrium Health partnership aims to bring more diverse students and first-generation college students into the health care field — all before high school graduation.
Cabarrus College of Health Sciences is partnering with Cabarrus County School System and Atrium Health to launch an early college high school later this year.
The Cabarrus College of Health Sciences will open the school, called the Cabarrus Health Sciences Institute, in August on the Atrium Health Cabarrus/Cabarrus College Campus in Concord, according to a statement released Tuesday by the college.
The school is awaiting budget approval from the NC General Assembly.
Tuition for students at the new early college high school will be subsidized by the state, making tuition free for all students, according to the Cabarrus College of Health Sciences.
Students attending the school will enroll in college courses while in high school, and will graduate with a minimum of a nurse aide certificate and coursework toward a college degree, according to the college.
And some students could even earn a Cabarrus College diploma or degree while in high school.
Some of the early college pathways include medical assisting, occupational therapy, nursing, surgical technology and life sciences, according to Cabarrus College.
Because the early college will be located on the Cabarrus College campus, students will take college classes and participate in labs alongside traditional college students.
Accelerated academic learning
The early college will emphasize enrolling first-generation college students, underrepresented families, students of colors, students from diverse backgrounds, students who are at-risk of dropping out of high school and students who may benefit from accelerated academic instruction, according to Cabarrus College.
A 2014 study of state data published in the North Carolina Medical Journal showed that white people are heavily over-represented in many medical professions, including in jobs as physicians, dentists, registered nurses, pharmacists, and more.
As of 2014, 64% of North Carolina’s population was white.
At the same time, white people made up 75% of NC’s physicians and 83% of the state’s registered nurses. And during that time, 22% of the state’s population was Black, while just 8% of physicians and 11% of registered nurses were Black.
“Programs like these help members of our community, who may need to start working right after high school or who are interested in the field, get hands-on experience at an early age and help propel them into healthcare careers,” Atrium Health assistant vice president of learning and career development Gerard Camacho said in a statement.
Atrium Health did not immediately provide details on the cost of the program.