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Novant Health’s Bridges to Healthcare program to honor the late Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown

Program offers internships, apprenticeships and educational assistance

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Novant Health announced last week at a celebration of life ceremony that its new Bridges to Healthcare program will honor the legacy of the late Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown, a former family physician and healthcare leader at Novant Health.

Launched in January 2022, Bridges to Healthcare introduces high school students in underrepresented communities to a wide variety of careers at Novant Health through paid internships. Twenty students from Title 1 high schools in the greater Winston-Salem and Charlotte regions recently completed 16-week rotations through both clinical and non-clinical areas across the organization. In addition to their rotations, students participated in professional development workshops focused on skills such as resume writing and personal finance.

“I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown than through this innovative opportunity for students in our communities to gain real-world healthcare experience and mentorship,” said Carmen Canales, senior vice president and chief people officer at Novant Health. “Dr. Garmon-Brown was a leader, friend and guide for so many both inside and outside our organization, and she was committed to strengthening our communities. Bridges to Healthcare helps create a talent pipeline and also embodies Dr. Garmon-Brown’s generous spirit and deep devotion to patient care and improving the lives of others.”  

Bridges to Healthcare is Novant Health's first paid program aimed at supporting the education of high school students and graduates and providing early exposure to healthcare careers. It is expected to engage up to 180 participants over a three-year period and was made possible by a $1.4 million gift from the John M. Belk Endowment, secured by the Novant Health Foundation.

“The John M. Belk Endowment is proud to partner with Novant Health to increase pathways to promising careers in healthcare,” said Mark Reed, managing director of The John M. Belk Endowment. “The Bridges to Healthcare program will allow students to discover possibilities that they could not have imagined on their own. We are grateful to the Novant Health team for their commitment to upward mobility and we look forward to seeing this program make a deep impact in the state of North Carolina.” 

“We are excited about the opportunities that will come from this innovative program, how it will help students move ahead into successful careers and how it will provide Novant Health with a direct talent pipeline to build our workforce,” said Ann Caulkins, president of Novant Health Foundation. “Building a strong, diverse, local talent pool is critical to our community, and Novant Health will leverage and collaborate with key community partners to make this program possible. This generous investment will train the healthcare leaders of tomorrow, ensure future generations have access to this remarkable program and advance economic opportunity and promote health equity throughout our region.”

The Bridges to Healthcare program is slated to expand to the coastal region in 2023 and will include a second phase that will provide high school graduates with educational assistance for community college and on-the-job training through paid apprenticeships at Novant Health. 

Applications are now being accepted for Phase II educational assistance for high school graduates pursuing a certificate, diploma or associates degree in a healthcare-related discipline. Eligible students can apply through May 31. Applications for Bridges to Healthcare’s fall intern cohort will be available at NovantHealth.org/careers beginning June 1. Interested students can learn more about both phases by emailing [email protected].

Posted on Monday, May 16, 2022