PRCC, William Carey align for ‘game changing’ partnership

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Dr. Adam Breerwood; PRCC President shakes hands with Dr. Ben Burnett; WCU Executive Vice President

Pearl River Community College and William Carey University joined forces once again Wednesday to better assist aspiring Health Sciences healthcare students in the Pine Belt and South Mississippi.

During a ceremony inside WCU’s Tatum Court, PRCC President Dr. Adam Breerwood and William Carey Executive Vice President Dr. Ben Burnett signed a Memorandum of Understanding specifically targeted at their allied health students and programs. Dr. Janet Williams, WCU’s Associate Vice President for College of Health Sciences, and PRCC’s Dr. Jana Causey, Vice President of PRCC’s Forrest County Campus, Allied Health and Nursing Programs, were also involved in the partnership.

The agreement will help create another pathway for PRCC graduates who want to continue their education at WCU.

“We are ecstatic to engage in this partnership. Dr. Burnett has been a true visionary leader here at William Carey and is a dear friend,” Dr. Breerwood said. “He has reached out on numerous occasions to us to try and create pathways where we can remove obstacles that would normally impede education.

“For our students, for the opportunity now locally to continue their education and have a clear pathway is something we’ve sought after for a long time. We are thrilled to engage in this agreement.”

At the core of the latest MOU is the Pine Belt and South Mississippi communities.

“Dr. Causey and I have talked about this multiple times,” Dr. Breerwood said. “Most of our students begin their high school career, their college career and ultimately reside within a 45-mile radius of our campuses. I think it’s brilliant to want to build this local economy. Through education we know we can do it.”

Another major component of the agreement is the intention to keep costs down for students. As part of the MOU, William Carey agrees to provide healthcare programs specific courses for dual enrollment of PRCC students who are currently enrolled in pre-professional and healthcare programs — at PRCC’s tuition rate.

“One of the biggest roadblocks in higher education is the cost and if you can take away one year of the cost, that’s huge,” Dr. Burnett said. “This will help students know they need to start planning while they’re at Pearl River so they can take the right courses and graduate — that’s important, to graduate — in two years, spend one year with us and then be eligible to pursue a variety of healthcare programs here at William Carey. 

“The quicker we can get students out, the less debt we have. A huge part of the equation in Mississippi economics is the debt they graduate with.”

One obvious hope with the latest MOU between PRCC and WCU is that it will directly help ease the ongoing healthcare shortage facing the country, and specifically Mississippi.

“We do not have enough health care professionals in our hospitals and it boils down to not having that skilled workforce that’s ready to go to work,” Dr. Causey said. “A partnership such as this one will help us meet the needs of our healthcare community.”

Wednesday’s ceremony is just the beginning, Dr. Williams said.

“We have looked for new and innovative ways to get that done over the years. We have some exciting things we’re doing as a university but this is game changing,” she said. “We’re not coming together, taking a pretty picture and moving on. This agreement means we’re going to send a representative to Pearl River once a week to advise these students, to be there for them and encourage them to come through those programs.”

Other key elements of the MOU include:

WCU will assist PRCC with initiating pre-professional programs for physical therapy, pharmacy, health information management, health administration and education, and RN-BSN offerings

Students who are dually enrolled at PRCC and WCU will receive academic support from William Carey

WCU and PRCC will work together to promote open communications, evaluation of current programs and future planning

SUCCESSFUL PARTNERSHIP

Wednesday’s announcement marks the fourth time in four years the two colleges have partnered together in the best interest of students in the Pine Belt and South Mississippi. In 2018 the two schools signed an Elementary Education Partnership to address the teacher shortage facing Mississippi. In 2020 the Wildcats and Crusaders came together once again to sign two more memorandums. The first provided classes for third- and fourth-year students at PRCC’s Hancock County Campus. The second agreement in 2020 made it easier for PRCC’s academic and technical students to transfer to WCU with their credits largely intact and pursue a Bachelor’s degree.

For the latest news on Pearl River Community College, visit PRCC.edu and follow us on Twitter (@PRCC_Wildcats), Instagram (PRCCWILDCATS), and Facebook (@PRCCMKTG).