Carol M. Smith, Chief Nursing Executive for Southwell and Chief Operating Officer for Southwell Medical and Cassandra Thomas WBL/YAP coordinator for Tift County School System are pictured holding the award presented to Tift Regional Medical Center.


Tift Regional Medical Center (TRMC) was recently named Business Partner of the Year for the Southwest Region of the Georgia Work-Based Learning (WBL) and Youth Apprenticeship (YAP) program.

The WBL/YAP program is in association with the Georgia Department of Education. According to Georgia WBL/YAP, the WBL program allows qualified students who have mastered skills in pathway areas and/or enrolled in any level course the opportunity to work at an approved job placement to gain valuable work experience while receiving CTAE (Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) course credit. Youth Apprenticeship is a structured combination of related coursework completed at the high school level and on-the-job training specific to a post-secondary credential which the employer and student is committed to.

The state of Georgia is comprised of six WBL/TAP regions. Each year, the WBL/YAP program announces Business Partnership winners from each region at their annual conference. Business partners are employers who work with their local WBL coordinator to place students in their places of employment.

“TRMC has been a supporter of Tift County Public School System for years. Work-Based Learning students learn so much during their time at the hospital. Being in the vicinity is a learning experience in itself especially if they must run down the hall with their supervisor. Some finish with confirmation of their career choices, some decide to focus on other careers in the medical field, and some decide that the medical field in not for them,” says Cassandra Thomas, WBL/YAP coordinator for Tift County School System.

Each WBL/YAP coordinator is given the opportunity to nominate a business partner for this regional award. Submissions are judged based on varying factors, including a description of how the partnership was formed, the process of selecting students for participation, involvement of the business in training the mentoring student(s), and the impact of the partnership.

The business partner is also required to submit a letter with the application. “Healthcare is a complex industry that requires a high school diploma as a minimum for entry into the work place, so it is often difficult for high school students to gain employment in or exposure to the industry,” said Carol Smith, MBA, RN, NEA-BC in her letter. Smith is the Chief Nursing Executive for Southwell and Chief Operating Officer for Southwell Medical.

“However, through the guidelines of WBL/YAP, the value of real life learning and career development, innovative position development, and Ms. Thomas’ work building upon the foundation her predecessor started, Ms. Thomas helped our partnership expand and grow,” she continued. “We were honored to receive this award for the Southwest Region. It is our pleasure to partner with the Tift County School System. With a partnership that has this caliber of leadership, the result is worth every minute of effort,” said Smith.