While running for governor, Bob McDonnell vowed to expand educational opportunities for students seeking a career in health care.
"In cooperation with our universities and community colleges, Bob McDonnell will establish at least one Virginia health sciences high school (academy or governor's school) to specifically prepare students for further study in nursing, medical technology, pharmacy, medical equipment specialties and veterinary or medical school," his campaign said in a Sept. 10, 2009, document that laid out his health care proposals.
Last year, we looked at the governor's progress in completing this vow. McDonnell's office noted then that the General Assembly had approved his request to set aside $80,000 in grant money to help establish eight health science academies around the state.
Although the funding was secured, the academies hadn't yet been established, so we initially rated this a promise that was In The Works.
As we approach the end of McDonnell's term, we checked again on whether the governor had fulfilled this pledge.
This year, the state Board of Education approved applications to establish eight Governor's Health Sciences Academies that are up and running this school year in high schools around the state. Each of those programs received a $10,000 state planning and implementation grant to help get them started as a new state-approved academy.
The academies are run by public school systems in Chesterfield, Albemarle, Cumberland, Gloucester and Fairfax counties as well as school systems in the cities of Hampton and Newport News.
All of the newly-established academies had offered a limited number of health science courses before the state designated them a Governor's Health Sciences Academy, said Charles Pyle, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Education.
Being approved as a Governor's Health Sciences Academy means they all have to expand their curriculum to ensure they introduce their students to five specific health care career paths, Pyle said.
To qualify as a health science academy, the programs have to prepare students for careers in therapeutic services, diagnostic services, health informatics, support services and biotechnology research and development. Those career tracks include jobs that entail caring for patients, detecting diseases and finding new treatments.
A Board of Education synopsis of several the newly-established academies says they are geared to preparing students for careers in nursing, pharmacy and medical lab technology among other health care fields.
The new governor's academies also have to meet "rigorous" state standards and their students' skills are monitored each year to ensure they progress from college work to a career in health care, according to the state Board of Education.
McDonnell vowed to establish at least one health sciences high school to prepare students for a career in health care. His administration provided state money that helped establish eight health sciences academies, so we rate this a Promise Kept.