Camarena Health partnered with Central Valley Health Network (CVHN) to provide Madera Unified Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) students the opportunity to participate in the California Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Scholars program. The purpose of this program is to recruit, train, and retain a health professional workforce committed to underserved communities. This opportunity allows the scholars to explore the primary care setting and enhance their skills through a variety of experiences. Five Madera South High School CAN students were selected to be in this first cohort; Perla Reyes, Ruby Tiscareno, Azucena Eugenio-Vasquez, Jenny Alvarez, and Ana Boch.
The AHEC program consists of a three-part curriculum. The 40-hour online curriculum hosted by UCSF-Fresno allowed students the ability to dive into community health topics as well as interdisciplinary case studies. The 40-hour clinical training provides students the opportunity to interact and engage with Camarena Health patients in underserved or rural areas to gain hands-on skills. Lastly, the community-based health project, which consist of identifying a need in underserved communities and helping to address it. Throughout the program, students had the ability to engage in webinars, clinics and community exploration, self-guided research, and cased-based learning.
“The AHEC Scholars program gave Madera Unified District students the ability to participate in a unique program in which students are provided the opportunity to connect with their community through a variety of experiences,” said Camarena Health Workforce Development Manager Jazmin Rios. “The goal is to ultimately enhance their skills are they pursue careers in healthcare, better preparing them for their futures.”
Camarena Health AHEC Scholars engaged with the community by completing their in-house clinical at a variety of locations. Scholars were stationed at our Camarena Health Urgent Care, Camarena Kids, Almond Women’s Health, and 6th Street Health Center locations. This allowed them to experience the diverse care that community health centers provide to patients. For their project, the students chose to collaborate and develop a brochure to address and educate patients on the importance of immunizations and well-child visits. During their spring break, scholars volunteered their time to assist with COVID-19 vaccine distribution in the community.
“The students that participated in this program were eager to learn about their communities needs and how to support them,” said Rios. “They participated in our COVID-19 vaccination clinics during their free time, assisted patients with questions, and assisted with the completion of forms. They were excited to help patients and arrived ready and with a smile.”
All five scholars received a $1,000 scholarship for completing the program. They each plan to begin a college education this fall with intention of entering a healthcare profession. Reyes will be attending Fresno State to major in nursing, Tiscareno will be attending Fresno State to major in biology, Eugenio-Vasquez will be attending Fresno Pacific University to major in nursing, Alvarez will be attending UC Merced to major in chemistry, and Boch will be attending UC Santa Cruz to major in neuroscience.