OUR OPINION: Allied health at ICC wins ARC’s praise

By NEMS Daily Journal

Itawamba Community College’s growing and innovative allied health professions program won praise from top Appalachian Regional Commission officials making site visits in Mississippi on Thursday. They viewed ICC‘s work on its Tupelo campuses and a dental hygiene program at Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville.
ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl and Chief of Staff Guy Land, a Mississippi native, met in Tupelo with North Mississippi Medical Center, Community Development Foundation and Three Rivers Planning and Development District officials, plus ICC administrators, for a roundtable discussion of the allied health initiative’s outcomes and successes.
ARC, a state-federal partnership dating from the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, has maintained its mission focus across partisan transitions and occasional political opposition. ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president. Local participation is provided through multi-county local development districts, and state directors appointed by governors.
Land, an attorney and former aide to the late Sen. John Stennis, said ICC’s approach to health professions education, produces jobs that are exceptionally high-paying for the region and among the best programs of its kind.
The ARC officials expressed particular satisfaction with the program’s retention of graduates with jobs in the region. The $600,000 ARC has invested in the program is the highest for any program in Mississippi affiliated with the commission.
Access to comprehensive, affordable health care has been a permanent part of the ARC mission, with focus on “community-based efforts to encourage health-promotion and disease-prevention activities.”
Encouraging the development and expansion of health professional education services within the region is a key element.
ICC’s success in the “allied” approach has produced high graduation rates, high employment rates and competitive enrollment. A new $17.5 million allied health center is under construction on the ICC-Tupelo campus near Veterans Boulevard.
Experienced salaries for health sciences graduates at ICC range from $38,000 to $65,000, with double-digit growth projected in every category except one during the 2008-2018 decade, the college’s surveys show.
More than 1,700 students applied for admission for the 308 slots available.
ARC has adapted its methods for changing situations, and its partial funding of many projects often provides the leverage needed to make a goal reachable.