The Pre-Health Career Corps (PHCC) program is a comprehensive year-round island-wide workforce pipeline program by Hilo Medical Center Foundation that provides resources and materials for students to explore the wide range of career opportunities within the healthcare field. PHCC participants are provided the Health Career Navigator Book along with a student companion guide designed to lead the students through a series of self-exploration and growth activities utilizing the career guidebook and online resources.
Hawaii Island needs more health care workers. Healthcare-related jobs for practitioners and support positions are in high demand; especially in primary care. We currently have a shortage of 213 primary care physicians to meet the demand of the community; a shortage of over 42%. Employers are struggling to find qualified applicants for healthcare support positions (clerical to clinical) to staff their offices and provide services within the community. If there are no phlebotomists to draw blood, then patients and practitioners will have difficulty diagnosing illnesses and prescribing a care plan.
The Pre-Health Career Corps (PHCC) is a FREE year-round program for middle school, high school, and college students who are interested in pursuing careers in health. PHCC’s purpose is to promote and support the development of a local healthcare workforce for our community. At Hilo Medical Center Foundation we believe that by increasing awareness about health-related careers among our Island’s youth through innovative and captivating experiences including one-on-one mentoring, shadowing, hands-on workshops, training, and research opportunities, we can achieve this goal. PHCC works with teachers to bring in the right resources at the right time to foster interest and exploration of STEM-related careers through hands-on workshops and career presentations from industry leaders that are helping to create a workforce that can guide and support future career success for our emerging workers. PHCC is designed for high school and college/graduate-level students on Hawaii Island interested in Healthcare. The Foundation expanded the PHCC program to include the far end of the health workforce pipeline connecting students to jobs on Hawaii Island; part of which includes building the infrastructure to be able to support students along the entire pipeline.
The workshops that PHCC provides include basic clinical skills e.g. (measuring blood pressure, injections, suturing, casting, DNA Extraction, etc), life skills workshops (e.g. resume writing, interview prep, financial wellness, etc), and even AED-Be A Lifesaver Chest Compression-Only CPR Training (now conducted online).
Rural Medicine and Health Education go hand in hand with overcoming difficult logistic obstacles and motivating participation from both the community and students. Despite meticulous efforts to heavily promote events and follow up with all of the individuals and groups involved with workshop and event coordination often proved to be challenging. The pandemic has restricted PHCC Students from taking advantage of some great opportunities, including CPR free Certifications, HMC Hospital Tours, Teen Health Camps, and volunteering.
As our Hawai’i Island Pre-Health Career Corps Program has expanded, our organizational capacity has also grown significantly. In order to keep up with the expansion, we have worked hard to minimize any wasted time, effort, or resources, and have continuously made significant efforts to improve communication strategies and implementation within our office, our collaborators and volunteers, and of course our PHCC students. We enable former PHCC students to serve as mentors for incoming members, thus providing a group support system for students interested in pursuing health careers. There are also opportunities for students to become Junior Corp Leaders and help to run workshops and teach their peers.
This strategy has played a significant role in increasing the number of workshops and resource offerings other the past several years, allowing the program to connect with students island-wide on a regular basis. Virtual Tutoring, 1-to-1 guidance/counseling, and test prep sessions are also available to PHCC participants. As part of the PHCC program, students are provided with certification training (HIPPA, CPR/First Aid, OSHA, Youth Mental Health, Health Administration etc.) to prepare them for entry-level health careers, research opportunities, professional training programs, and college readiness. The PHCC program understands that to make an impactful long-lasting difference for our youth we must also work with the Department of Education.
As part of the state-level Health Services Pathway Advisory Council, the Foundation assisted with the development of a high school/college Health Service Pathway joint professional development program to deliver high-quality training and resources to teachers. Teachers are provided with resources and professional development opportunities within the Pre-Health Career Corps Program program to focus on teaching and learning in the classroom setting. Teachers have access to curriculum and planning activities to guide career exploration and link educational components to relevant real-world activities for students.
To learn more about Hilo Medical Center Foundation’s Pre-Health Career Corps Program, see the flyer below: