Alexandria City Public Schools and the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences Partner to Create an Academy of Health Sciences at T.C. Williams High School

New Partnership Offers T.C. Williams Students a Clear Pathway for Careers in Medicine and Health Sciences, Building a Strong Health Care Workforce in Virginia
October 25, 2017

WASHINGTON/ALEXANDRIA, VA (October 26, 2017) — Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) and the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences have established a partnership that creates a Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathway for students interested in careers in medicine and health care. The program will begin to be rolled out in academic year 2018-2019 at T.C. Williams High School, Virginia’s largest high school for grades 9 through 12.

According to the World Health Organization, “the world will be short of 12.9 million health care workers by 2035.” More specifically, in the D.C. metro region, over the next 10 years there will be an annual shortage of approximately 1,236 health care professionals and a shortage of roughly 776 health care support occupations, according to Labor Insight Jobs and Burning Glass Technologies.

This new partnership between ACPS and GW addresses the workforce shortage in Virginia and across the globe and develops a qualified health care workforce of tomorrow.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to get a head start on college, have access to a great education, and to develop a passion for a career field that has a critical need for future employees. The Career and Technical Education program at T.C. Williams provides students with the chance to fully understand the field of study they may pursue and make sound decisions about that career choice before they fully commit to it. We are very excited about this unique public-private partnership opportunity with GW,” said Interim ACPS Superintendent Lois F. Berlin.

The strategic educational partnership will establish five new Career and Technical Education pathways within the new GW-ACPS Academy of Health Sciences at T.C. Williams High School. It will start with the launch of a biomedical informatics pathway in fall 2018, followed by four additional pathways – sports medicine, pharmacy, emergency medical services and medical laboratory sciences that will launch over the next four years. GW faculty will work collaboratively with faculty from T.C. Williams to broaden and enrich the offerings for the students. Currently, T.C. Williams offers a nursing and surgical technology pathway in its Health and Medical Sciences Department.

Through the pathways created by the partnership, T.C. Williams’ students can begin earning college credits in their first year of the program, which could be as early as ninth grade. For some, this will significantly reduce the amount of time and money needed to graduate from college and will create various career options upon graduation. The partnership is designed to provide the necessary background education and training for students to choose from the following career paths:

  • Attain employment immediately after graduation into an entry level medical role in the workforce,
  • Matriculate into Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) to attain an associate’s degree, or
  • Transfer into the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, through a guaranteed admissions agreement, with college credits towards earning a bachelor’s degree. Under the partnership, students who opt to complete their health sciences degree at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences will also be eligible for scholarships.

“Workforce development in high-demand health care professions is critically important for Virginia. This partnership addresses this priority by bringing cutting edge health sciences education to students at T.C. Williams to accelerate their paths to health care careers,” said Reamer L. Bushardt, PharmD, PA-C, DFAAPA, professor and senior associate dean for health sciences at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences. “GW faculty are uniquely prepared to help students explore careers that leverage their talents and strengths. As we designed this program, I have been inspired by the collaborative spirit shared by faculty at ACPS, GW, and NOVA. This collaboration was integral to shaping a program that is both student- and community-centered. This private-public partnership is one of the first of its kind and a model for community-led workforce development,”

In academic year 2017-2018, staff and faculty from ACPS and GW will build courses within the curriculum pathways. Beginning in fall 2018, the academy will start with a cohort of 100-150 students. After students complete the freshman “Introduction to Health and Medical Sciences” course, students will select one of the seven pathways to complete. With the graduation of the first cohort of students through the Academy of Health Sciences, GW and ACPS will begin collecting outcomes to assess the impact of the program to the local, regional, and national workforce as well as the progression of students to NOVA and GW.

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