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The president and CEO of Nash UNC Health Care Thursday told students and officials at Halifax Community College there is a growing demand for healthcare professionals.

The healthcare system was the sponsor of the college’s Cultural Learning and Universal Enrichment Series where a group of medical professionals who attended high schools across the Roanoke Valley served as panelists.

“As you likely know there’s an incredibly high demand for healthcare professionals and the pandemic only furthered this need,” said L. Lee Isley, who spoke before the panel discussion. “The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects healthcare careers will grow by 16 percent over the next seven years. So if you’re interested in healthcare you’re in the right field.”

Isley said the healthcare system was happy to sponsor the event, part of the college’s Presidential Lecture Series and a celebration of Black History Month. “It’s important for all of us to be engaged in these types of events and these important conversations. I am personally humbled as we celebrate and recognize our local, successful healthcare professionals — members of our community who grew up, received their early education here in our community and more importantly were instilled with our values.”

Now, Isley said, “They are instilling and influencing others with our local values and making positive impacts in their practices.”

Many Nash UNC patients are from the Roanoke Valley and many of the staff are from the Halifax-Northampton area as well. “We feel as though it is important that our team represents the patient population we serve.”

Isley said the current demographics of healthcare professionals in general do not reflect the diversity of the community in the United States. “The professionals who provide care in our communities should reflect the communities in which we serve. Nash is committed to this endeavor. Together we can make this more equitable.”

He said the healthcare system wants to prepare students from the area for healthcare careers. “Healthcare and hospitals are micro communities inside our larger communities that we serve — the support, the teamwork of being a member of something larger than ourselves.”

Said Isley: “I cannot think of any other more rewarding career than being a healthcare provider. Nash UNC is committed to supporting our community not only in providing exceptional patient care but also in providing career opportunities to the individuals who live in our communities and who are aligned with our organizational goals.”

He said the system’s values are rooted in service leadership, trust and compassion. He also said there is a priority based on excellence in safety, quality, and service as well as building connections with the community. “At Nash we’re not only committed to offering competitive wages but for those who haven’t quite decided on expanding their educational background we offer educational scholarships and tuition assistance.”

There is a clinical ladder program and other programs to support staff in advancing through the system to achieve their career goals. “We are offering sign-on bonuses for some positions up to $15,000, rent assistance while you’re going through school and more. I’m thrilled to be part of and to grow our partnership with HCC and to continue to expand our workforce from this region. We all look forward to seeing the great things you will achieve in your professional development and how you will shape the future of healthcare.”