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