Madalyn Harris

Program Readies High Schoolers for Several College Health Care Programs

Ask your average high school junior what Health Care Quick Start is, and they might imagine it is some brand of virus-free, fast internet. Good guess, but no. For those who might be inclined toward a career somewhere along the health care spectrum, HCQS is a lifeline of another sort. It’s a program that Piedmont Ask your average high school junior what Health Care Quick Start is, and they might imagine it is some brand of virus-free, fast internet. Good guess, but no. For those who might be inclined toward a career somewhere along the health care spectrum, HCQS is a lifeline of another sort. It’s a program that Piedmont Technical College (PTC) offers for dual enrollment students interested in getting common health care program feeder courses under their belt before actually attending college.


“The Health Care Quick Start option was introduced two years ago and is designed for high school juniors who are leaning toward a health care field of study in college,” PTC Health Care Dean Tara Gonce explained. “It’s a way to cover some core courses that prepare them for entry into a health care degree program of their choice by the time they graduate from high school.” 


When the cohort started, an evening orientation was held for students and their parents. The event included a Health Care Program Fair with displays and faculty contacts available to answer questions about the various choices available in health care degrees and certifications offered at PTC. 


Members of the first cohort of the program are preparing to graduate this spring. 


“Some students have not decided exactly which health care profession they will choose,” Gonce said. “They think they have to make a decision immediately while they are in their junior year, but they really don’t. The layout of the courses in this program allows the student time and flexibility in that decision-making process. That is the beauty of it.”


Full disclosure, one of the seven set to finish the program this spring happens to be Gonce’s daughter, Madalyn Harris. After graduation, Harris plans to enroll in PTC’s Cardiovascular Technology Program. 


“The Health Care Quick Start Program is the perfect major for dual enrollment students who want to get their prerequisites out of the way and be program-ready,” Harris said. “I chose this major so I can apply for the CVT Program as soon as I graduate from high school.”


Ideally, Harris hopes to see herself one day working at Self Regional Healthcare while pursuing bachelor’s and master’s degrees in health care administration.


From the perspective as a mother rather than as health care dean, Gonce has proudly watched her daughter study obsessively and steadfastly focus on completing the program. 


“Madalyn is an exceptional teenager because she has been so goal-oriented. She has had this goal set for a while now. It feels like home to her. That is what we want all our students to feel,” Gonce said. “This whole cohort, to me, is exceptional. They have stayed on course. That is a lot for a high school student. These courses are not easy. … I am proud of the way they have been taking this seriously.”


PTC Dual Enrollment Director Tameika Wideman noted that, thanks to the application of a patchwork of grants and scholarships that include Lottery Tuition Assistance, SC WINS, and local promise programs, most dual enrollment students attend PTC tuition-free. “That makes the program an incomparable value,” she said. 


Wideman said the Dual Enrollment Health Care Quick Start Program enables students interested in health care professions to begin their college experience in advance, receive college credit, and develop good study skills early on. 


Gonce says she certainly hopes that students who complete the program enroll at PTC, but even if they choose a different path, the program is intended to help them advance in any college environment. 


“Our goal is to pull them into our program,” she said. “But it’s also to get them the credits they need towards a health care degree wherever they go.” 


For more information about Health Care Quick Start, go to www.ptc.edu/academics/dual-enrollment/career-quick-start


PHOTO: Madalyn Harris


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