May 2010
Welcome to Pathways!
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Our goal is to serve as a resource for you as you navigate the pathway through school and, ultimately, to a health career. Each month, you'll receive career and college planning tips, advice and resources to help you make your health career dreams a reality.

News from NC-HCAP...

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In This Issue
Motivational Minute
Health Careers 101
Spotlight on Success
Strategies for Success
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The North Carolina Health Careers Access Program (NC-HCAP) is located at UNC-Chapel Hill. Additional campus-based centers are located at Elizabeth City State University, North Carolina Central University, and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Established in 1971 by Dr. Cecil G. Sheps, we work to increase the number of underrepresented minorities or economically and/or educationally disadvantaged students who are educated, trained and employed in the health professions.

For more than 35 years, we have provided thousands of students with a variety of programs and activities to raise their awareness of opportunities available within the health professions and to increase their competitiveness as health professional school applicants.

We're always here to assist you. Simply contact us at:

(919) 966-2264
[email protected]
Motivational Minute

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning."

- Benjamin Franklin

Allow the words of one of the founding fathers of the United States to help further your progress towards your short and long terms goals. Remember, it's not the destination that gives us satisfaction, but the important journey to the goal that helps to shape us!

Health Careers 101

Get on the pathway to pathology: cracking the mystery in each case

A high school student is hurried off to the emergency room after passing out in class. She wakes up in the hospital and is complaining of a severe stomach pain. Since there are countless reasons that she may be in pain, a pathologist needs to step in to help solve the mystery!

A physician who studies the cause and development of diseases, explains test results to other physicians and performs autopsies.


Education: After receiving your bachelor's degree, you must attend medical school then complete a residency program.

Want to know more? A pathologist is a specialized physician who studies a variety of natural diseases. The surgical pathologist examines organs and tissues; a clinical pathologist usually directs a hospital laboratory; the autopsy pathologist performs examinations on individuals who have died; and a forensic pathologist investigates "unnatural deaths" due to crimes. Pathologists tend to specialize in only one or fewer areas because there is simply too much information for one person to be an expert at everything.

Hot Link: Visit the American Society for Clinical Pathology Web site at

Source: NC-HCAP Health Careers Information & Enrichment Workshop manual
Spotlight on Success

Johnson Blazes Trail in Transplant Surgery

By Deb Hanson
Lynt Johnson lives by the power of the 3 D's: determination, discipline and drive. It shows. Johnson has blazed a trail for fellow African American health professionals involved in liver transplant surgery.

In 1991, at the age of 31, Johnson and his Harvard Medical School roommate, Ed Barksdale, broke ground by becoming the first African Americans to head the general surgical residents at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital. After completing residency in general surgery at Mass. General in 1991 and serving on the hospital staff for one year, Johnson began his fellowship program at Boston's New England Deaconess Hospital, where he performed 60 liver transplants during his training.

In 1995, the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) appointed Johnson as assistant professor and director of Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Surgery. It was there that he and his colleagues built the region's leading liver transplantation program and helped to establish UMMC as a highly respected center for multidisciplinary treatment of the full spectrum of liver disease.     

 "I was always fascinated with the human body," says Johnson, who holds his undergraduate degree in chemistry from Duke University. "However, my grandmother's death from liver cancer when I was a young boy had a profound impact on me and may have led me to focus my interest in liver transplantation and liver cancer surgery. Transplantation has such a tremendous impact on the quality of life of an individual that I found no other area in medicine quite as challenging and rewarding."

The middle child in a family of five, Johnson grew up in Savannah, Ga. Johnson credits much of his success to his family and hometown neighbors who were concerned about what he did and stood behind him. He attended the Science Enrichment Preparation (SEP) Program in 1980, and then went on to graduate from Harvard Medical School. He is a testament to hard work and dedication."In this country, black kids in particular are shown that the way to success in life is to become an athlete or entertainer, but that's a disservice to us," says Johnson. "Their aspirations should be wide open."

Johnson's success hasn't come easy though. "I have had a number of challenges along the way, particularly from instructors who would be condescending and ridicule my efforts to always be the best," he says. "This only served to strengthen my will. [For instance]: After I had accepted the job as head of the liver transplant program in Maryland, I was told by the certifying body that despite all my previous training, I was required to perform an additional six months of training at my own expense. We went on to build one of the best transplant programs in the country at the University of Maryland."

Today, Johnson is nationally recognized for his work in transplant medicine. He currently serves as chief of the Division of Transplant Surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center. He is also passing on his knowledge to the next generation as a professor of surgery at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Strategies for Success

Tips for a Productive Summer Break

Ever heard the expression "lazy summer days?" When you aspire to be a successful health professional, you have little time for lazy days!

You need to make the most of your time, even during those months off from school. These five tips from the College Board will help you turn your summer break into a productive time:

(1) Get involved in activities related to your passion.

(2) Find shadowing, internship, or volunteer opportunities to learn more about the career you're planning to pursue.

(3) Give back to the community by volunteering your time with a local organization, charity, or non-profit organization.

(4) Enroll in summer classes open to students at the college or community college level to further hone your skills and continue to learn through the summer.

(5) Read, read, read and read some more! Plunge into summer reading lists and discover a whole new world out there.

Summer Program Offerings

To research NC-based summer programs in the health sciences, visit The North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC-AHEC) Program at

Find information on summer camps, activities and programs in science, math and engineering at

Looking for opportunities to enrich your academic experiences during the warm, summer months? Browse program listings at

Want to tap into summer programs for pre-college students across the country? Visit

  Meet Ms. Rivera
As the pre-college outreach coordinator, Koyah Rivera is responsible for planning, developing and implementing pre-college outreach initiatives across North Carolina.

Before joining NC-HCAP, Rivera was employed as a college admissions counselor at Shaw University in Raleigh. She has served as a Language Arts teacher for Wake County Public Schools and TV news producer/writer at two NBC TV stations. She is also the founder/executive director/TV host of Beyond Gifted, Inc., a non-profit organization which produces the "Beyond Gifted" television program to assist K-12 students in developing post-secondary plans to reach school and life success. She received dual B.A. degrees in communications and English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.