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Clifton-Fine Hospital to host Wells College students

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STAR LAKE — A new partnership among Clifton-Fine Hospital, Wells College, and the Central New York and Northern area health education centers has created another link for those interested in a health career in the north country.

The partners’ immersion program will bring six pre-health college students to Clifton-Fine and its surrounding community, from Aug. 19 to Aug. 23, to introduce them to job opportunities within rural communities.

“It’s been a challenge for us,” Clifton-Fine Chief Executive Officer Robert L. Seamon said, regarding staff recruitment. “We are such a rural area. What this (program) does is it gives students a glimpse to live and work in a rural area.”

Erin E. Hildreth, program manager at the Central health education center, said the five-day immersion program will showcase Clifton-Fine services and jobs, provide an afternoon job shadow session, offer community-related health care provider presentations, and allow the six Wells College students to explore Star Lake.

Wells College, she said, had difficulty in finding internships for its pre-health students. They are classified as pre-health since they may receive a degree in a medical related field, such as biology, but there are no specific medical degrees offered at Wells, which is located in Aurora.

“It’s a very large commitment for health care providers to take on,” Ms. Hildreth said. “It was kind of a perfect storm because we had these students, and the hospital there was willing to take on the program.”

In order for the short program to be successful, she said, the community here will need to welcome each students, and rally around the immersion concept to help their local hospital.

“We would like to be able to take this model and grow it throughout our region,” Ms. Hildreth said. “The Northern AHEC office covers six counties, and the CNY office covers 14 counties. The underlying meaning of this is to bring providers to rural communities.”

Mr. Seamon said the program is a great investment in Clifton-Fine Hospital’s future.

“The more we emulate programs like this in the future, it’ll be a great benefit to us,” he said.

All six participating students will make a presentation to the community about their experience with the program from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 22 at the community center on Route 3.

Ms. Hildreth said she credits Richard K. Merchant, CEO of the Northern Area Health Education Center, with suggesting the program for St. Lawrence County. A similar, successful program was conducted in Colorado.

For more information, people may call the hospital at 848-3351.

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