WHATCOM — The Health Professions Affinity Community (HPAC) aims to introduce students to health-related careers while empowering them to address their communities’ most pressing health disparities.

An after-school HPAC program is run through Whatcom Community College especially to serve students at Ferndale, Nooksack Valley and Mount Baker Senior high schools.

In an afterschool club format, students tackle issues such as substance abuse, food insecurity and mental health, and they create projects to bring about awareness and change. Students interested in joining may contact Emily Schneider at EScheider@whatcom.edu or phone her at 360-383-3187.

Also, the Area Health Education Center for Western Washington is housed at Whatcom Community College. Nationally, the AHEC movement supports healthcare delivery systems and access to care through activities that strengthen the healthcare workforce in rural and urban-underserved communities. Funding is by the University of Washington and the Washington State Department of Health.

WCC recently announced that a $500 grant has been received from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, along with training and support from Youth Service America, to aid in the local effort.

This is the outlook of the Family Medicine Education Consortium: “Our nation needs more family physicians and our medical schools do not have the current capacity to meet the needs. Our nation also needs more nurses, dentists and other health professionals willing to serve in rural and inner-city communities.”