Several McDowell high school students participated in MAHEC's first Project PROMISE Health Careers Summer Camp.

Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) hosted its first Project PROMISE Health Careers Summer Camp at the end of June. This free three-day camp was held at MAHEC and UNC Asheville, which housed 20 rural junior and senior high school students from McDowell, Madison, Mitchell, Yancey and Swain counties.

Over the three days, campers joined MAHEC’s Rural Health Initiative team for health career-focused activities led by health professionals and residents from MAHEC’s family medicine, ob/gyn, sports medicine, pharmacy, dental, and surgery programs. Students were exposed to a variety of clinical settings and participated in hands-on activities that included ultrasound, casting, injecting, suturing, pig heart dissection, delivery simulation, pharmacotherapy, wilderness medicine, social determinants of health, filling cavities, rural resilience, and more.

Students from McDowell High School who attended were Tray Allison, Grayson Cole, McKenzie Hartman, Karson Holtsclaw, Dalton Honeycutt, Sara Lewis, Maggie Rader and Jennifer Rector. From McDowell Early College were Madison Fish, Raegan Grindstaff and Mackenzie Holliday.

Project PROMISE—Providing Rural Opportunities in Medicine through Inspiring Service and Education—was created in 2014 by MAHEC family medicine resident Rivers Woodward, MD, from Franklin, NC, and Brittany Papworth, MD, to encourage rural students to consider meaningful and fulfilling careers in healthcare that could, in turn, help address their community’s most pressing healthcare needs.

MAHEC was established in 1974 to train future generations of healthcare professionals for Western North Carolina through quality healthcare, innovative education, and best practice models that can be replicated nationally. Located in Asheville, MAHEC serves North Carolina’s 16 westernmost counties and is the largest of the nine state AHECs that were established to address national and state concerns with the supply, retention, and quality of health professionals especially in rural areas of the state.

For more information on how to better connect rural high school students to MAHEC’s programs, please contact Bryan McClure, or Amy Parker,

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