Grant to fund medical programs at LFCC, public schools

Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, left, president of Lord Fairfax Community College, and Lynn Tadlock, right, deputy executive director of the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation, listen as Alexis Sine, 18, of Luray speaks of her accomplishments during the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation grant announcement at Lord Fairfax Community College on Thursday. Rich Cooley/Daily

MIDDLETOWN – Lord Fairfax Community College will be sharing in a grant from the Fairfax-based Claude Moore Charitable Foundation with Frederick and Page county schools.

The college will use $120,000 of the $200,000 grant to set up a medical laboratory technology track, hiring an associated coordinator at the college and purchasing the necessary equipment. Page and Frederick county schools will each use $40,000 of the grant to develop courses that will further prepare students to enter the health field.

Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, president of the college, spoke on Thurday of the importance of LFCC graduates staffing local hospitals. She said Valley Health hired 45 registered nurses in 2015 who came from LFCC – more than from any other school of higher education.

She said the medical lab tech program will join the college’s other health professions programs, which conclude with students earning associate’s degrees or certificates.

“High school students and their parents are taking a closer look at all of these programs because the jobs are out there, they’re good-paying jobs, our tuition is affordable, our programs are high-quality, our graduates can land that great job with a two-year degree or less,” she said.

Alexis Sine

Brenda Byard, the college’s academic, student affairs and outreach dean, explained the job and higher education options for those in the medical lab tech program and stressed the importance of anatomy and physiology as “gatekeeper courses” in the medical field.

“The programs being created will afford our students the opportunity to begin a career pathway that has multiple avenues for progression in their chosen field,” she said. “The med lab tech program is just the beginning.”

LFCC offers dual enrollment programs for schools in eight surrounding districts, and Thompson-Stacy said 2,360 students participated in the past school year. Out of those districts, she said Frederick and Page counties are two of the first schools the college will work with in this “structured pathways” program.

Area school administrators, representatives from the Winchester Educational Foundation and the Claude Moore Foundation and state Sen. Russ Potts were in attendance for the announcement.

Lynn Tadlock, deputy executive director of the foundation, explained its mission to support young adults pursuing medical professions. Alexis Sine, a recent Luray High School and LFCC graduate, spoke about her academic opportunities through LFCC to those assembled for the announcement.

Kelley Aitken, supervisor of science for Frederick County schools, said in a separate interview that the grant will be the foundation to develop students’ pathway to a health sciences certificate.

Students have been able to take a health professions course and medical terminology course through the schools’ Career and Technical Education department as well as an anatomy and physiology course. Students can also take a two-year Certified Nursing Assistant course through the Dowell J. Howard Center, which prepares them to take the associated state board exam.

Aitken said grant money will go toward some new equipment for those courses and help fund student excursions to see health careers in action – like witnessing an open heart surgery at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

“The whole idea behind the student field experiences is to take them out and let them see what they can do,” she said.

With some adjustments to the course curricula at Frederick County high schools to align with LFCC requirements, she said students will be well-equipped with the skills and prerequisite courses they need to enter into a health professions program.

“We just have to create the pathway, connect all the pieces together,” she said. “I think this is a great opportunity – I think there’s a large interest for students for health professions.”

Last year, Winchester Public Schools received $120,000 from the Claude Moore Foundation, which expanded Career and Technical Education opportunities in a medical lab technician program. Byard said that will flow directly into the college’s new associate track.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com