(Media release from Atrium Health Floyd):

Four recent Rome High School graduates were celebrated at Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center on Friday as part of the Rise to Success program. The initiative enables high school graduates to earn an associate degree in a healthcare-related discipline from a local community college and obtain an entry-level, part-time position at Atrium Health Floyd.

Atrium Health offers tuition assistance. The students are expected to work for Atrium Health for the duration of their college career and an additional year after completion of their associate degree and are encouraged to earn their bachelor’s degree. Participants will have access to a career coach who will support their academic and work success throughout the Rise to Success program.

Three students attended Friday – Danna Sherlyn Balcarcel Hernandez, Selena Padron Espinoza and Diana Juarez-Pelico. All three are enrolled as healthcare students at Georgia Highlands College. A fourth student, Kia Reyes, plans to attend Georgia Northwestern Technical College. Atrium Health Floyd is finding ways to give the hands-on experience at Atrium Health Floyd Medical Center.

“We are glad you signed on with this program,” said Kurt Stuenkel, president and CEO of Atrium Health Floyd and Executive Vice President of Atrium Health. “We are happy to have the opportunity to help you start a career in the medical industry.”

Stuenkel pointed out that there are plenty of opportunities in the medical field and that the program encourages the student to consider all their options.

“There are likely medical positions you don’t even know exist and might not have ever considered, and that is another exciting aspect of this,” Stuenkel said. “Healthcare represents about 20 % of our nation’s economy. The field is really wide open.”

“I’m glad I got this opportunity where are there are so many ways to succeed and help the community,” said Balcarel. “It’s so exciting to be part of this program.”

Those sentiments were echoed by the other students.

“This is an amazing opportunity to explore the medical field and the potential it holds,” said Espinoza. Juarez-Pelico sees the program as a chance to help her be successful and to help her to “fully understand what I want to really do in the future.”

The program was created in 2019 to address the national gap in healthcare by providing opportunities for students interested in filling critical-need positions.

Gerard Comacho, assistant vice president of Workforce Strategy for Atrium Health, said the program was started after leaders realized there is a need throughout the healthcare industry when it comes to maintaining a robust workforce to provide quality care.

He said leaders at Atrium Health can track education and population trends to determine where the greatest need for healthcare services exist. He said there are currently about 800 Atrium Health teammates who have succeeded through the Rise to Success program.