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Carthage, TX - How do you get males interested in a health science career such as nursing or occupational therapy assisting? You do what Panola College did and present a one-day, interactive, engaging event for male students from area school districts. 
After receiving funds from a grant to increase non-traditional participation in career and technical programs, like those in health sciences, leadership from within the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Panola College planned and presented the first annual Man Enough for Health Sciences event on May 3, 2018. This event was attended by approximately 50 males in grades 8-12 from Carthage, Garrison, Gary, Jefferson, Marshall, and Waskom. 
One of the key purposes of the event was to reduce the stigma often associated with males who work in health science careers. Males make excellent health care providers. Like their female counterparts, males who work in these careers want to help others and often say that they are drawn to fields like nursing because of the excitement they get saving lives.
Students who attended the event learned about careers in nursing, occupational therapy, medical lab technologies, and medical assisting from males who work in each of those fields. During roundtable discussions, students were able to talk to the guest speakers and other men who currently work in one of the careers presented. Several of the guest speakers and roundtable presenters were current Panola College professors, alumni, and current students.  During the hamburger luncheon, students learned from Kelly Reed-Hirsch, Dean of Health Sciences, about Panola College, dual credit courses, and what they can do to prepare for admission into the health science programs like Nursing or Occupational Therapy Assisting.
Before the end of the day, students had toured the award-winning Health and Natural Sciences building, viewed simulations, and were able to participate in a variety of hands-on activities. Students used words like “unexplainably amazing” and “awesome” to describe the event, and 85% stated that they thought more positively about careers in health sciences than they did before the event.
Careers in health sciences are well-respected fields with a wide variety of employment opportunities.  But considering the 9:1 ratio of females-to-males in the field of nursing alone, there is a need to provide male students a chance to explore these careers early. Careers in health sciences are reliable, well-paying, and provide the satisfaction of being able to provide for your family that some careers may not without many years of education and experience.  Panola College offers seven programs in the School of Nursing and Health Sciences that provide students with marketable skills that local employers want in their employees. For programs like the Vocational Nursing and Medical Assisting, a student can complete the one-year program and earn a certificate that prepares them to receive licensure to practice in those fields.  Programs like Associate Degree Nursing, which leads to becoming a Registered Nurse, and Occupational Therapy Assisting require two years to complete before earning a college degree.
Districts that did not get to participate will have another chance during the upcoming school year. Businesses interested in becoming a sponsor for the next Man Enough for Health Sciences event, please contact Dean Reed-Hirsch at Panola College.
Chair of ADN and VN Nursing programs, Annissa Jackson, RN, discusses the nursing programs at Panola College with the Man Enough for Health Sciences participants.
Participants learn from Panola College faculty and current ADN students during roundtable discussion time.
Success Coordinator, Jennifer Gaston, RN, shows participants the high-fidelity manikins used to simulate labor and delivery.

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