For the past decade, Lakeland Health Foundations have provided continuous funding to help offset the cost of tuition and necessary course materials for students enrolled in the Professional Health Careers Academy (PHCA), a partnership between Lakeland Health, Lake Michigan College, and Berrien Regional Education Service Agency.
“Over the past decade careers in the healthcare industry have been in high demand,” said Brian Pyles, PhD, Regional Director for Career and Technical Education, Berrien RESA. “We appreciate the generosity of Lakeland Health Foundations. Each year we are able to provide 48 students in Berrien County with hands on experience and training that most students don’t receive until the end of their post-secondary education.”
The PHCA is a year-long program that introduces high school juniors and seniors to professional health careers through both high school and college course work. Students enrolled in the PHCA also get the opportunity to explore personal interests in a variety of healthcare careers while spending three weeks of each month in a hospital or community health care setting.
“The experience these students gain through the PHCA helps them to develop a better understanding of what a career in the healthcare industry really looks like. They can decide if it suits their skills and interests before they graduate from high school, and go on to pursue a college degree,” said Melissa Springsteen, PHCA Instructor, Niles Senior High School.
Elizabeth Weage, MD, a graduate of Lakeshore High School, was a student in the first PHCA class which she said helped prepare her for a career as a family medicine physician at Southwestern Medical Clinic in Niles.
“I knew growing up that I wanted to be a physician and the PHCA gave me access to the hands-on experience I needed in order to know that this was the right career path for me,” said Dr. Weage. “While completing medical school at Wayne State University and my residency at the University of Cincinnati, my goal was always to return to southwest Michigan and practice medicine.”