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REED Summit to link students with healthcare industry professionals

Connecting prospective and current college students who want to work in the healthcare industry with the wide array of career opportunities in that field and exposing them to educational pathways and industry professionals is the goal of the Regional Education and Economic Development (REED) Summit this fall.

"We hope to expose students to the many occupations in healthcare beyond well-known clinical careers, including health information technology, data analytics, the patient experience, and human resources," said Kay Keller, director of economic development and community engagement at UNG. "The event will also feature industry leaders who will talk about the educational requirements and experience that future healthcare professionals will need."

The summit titled "Not Everyone in Healthcare Wears Scrubs" will be from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at UNG's Convocation Center on UNG’s Dahlonega Campus. Registration is $25 community members and professionals and $10 for students.

UNG is hosting the summit with support from Northeast Georgia Health System as presenting sponsor. For more details and to register, visit the REED Summit website.

Frank Berry, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Community Health, will deliver the keynote speech about the career opportunities that exist in the healthcare field in Georgia. 

“My goal is to not only educate attendees on the various job and career opportunities that exist through various divisions and programs within the Department of Community Health and public service in state government, but also the needs of the existing healthcare industry and the future challenges of workforce development in this field.”

Additionally, he will provide insight into how the future healthcare landscape will impact the needs of the state as a whole.

Dr. Teresa Conner-Kerr, dean of the College of Health Sciences and Professions and professor of physical therapy at UNG, said this summit is important because more than 5,000 jobs openings exist in Georgia for workers in healthcare informatics.

"UNG offers two certifications, one in healthcare management and one in healthcare informatics for students who want to pursue these high-demand careers," she said. "We have also proposed a bachelor's degree in these areas."

The event will also feature panels with industry and education leaders, a resource fair, and breakout sessions focused on rural healthcare, patient experience, business and administration, serving an aging population, information technology, and community health and wellness.

The resource fair will feature sponsors, potential employers and other area resources, including home healthcare companies, clinics, financial institutions and information technology agencies dealing with medical records.

The summit's target audience is current and potential students, healthcare providers, chambers of commerce and economic development professionals, legislators, education leaders and professionals at the high school and college levels, high school counselors, small business owners related to the healthcare industry, and career and educational advisers.

The summit stems from the Regional Education and Economic Development Initiative, which was launched by UNG President Bonita Jacobs as part of the university's Complete College Georgia Plan. The initiative’s mission is to build collaborations and share successful community practices to increase education attainment across the northeast Georgia region and strengthen the region's economy.

Keller said while this summit will focus on healthcare, future summits may feature manufacturing or agriculture.

"We would always focus on high-demand career areas," she said.

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