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As health care workers battle the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in front of them, Matthew Barefoot, D.D.S., M.D., set his sights on the future of health care.
Barefoot, an oral surgeon at his Mount Pleasant practice, Oral Surgery and Dental Implant Specialists South Carolina, is launching his first Virtual Academic Advantage College and Career Fair for aspiring medical professionals.
“It’s become evident how critical doctors and nurses are to this country and the world,” Barefoot said. “A lot of doctors and nurses are soon going to age out and retire, so there’s going to be a great need in the future. They (students) are going to have to become the next generation.”
Although the event was initially planned to be in-person, Barefoot chose to continue online because he recognized students’ need for an event like this, especially during a time when most college fairs have been canceled, he said.
“I wanted to create a way to give back to young individuals who are leaning toward a career in health care,” Barefoot said. “With school shutdowns, graduations canceled, students having to repeat semesters — any experience like this makes people more adaptable, and adaptability is a good attribute to have if you’re going into health care.”
The virtual career fair, aimed toward middle and high school students, will take place at 4 p.m. April 28 through the GoToWebinar platform. Students must register in advance for the free event. Attendees who answer the online questionnaires and are present during the session will have a chance to earn a $500 scholarship.
A panel of five medical specialists and educational counselors will be present to provide tips and insight about excelling in the health care field. Parents and students will also be able to learn about resources for college admissions, financial aid and internship opportunities.
Though this is Barefoot’s first year hosting this career fair, he said he plans to make it an annual event, hopefully in-person next time.
“No matter how much you study and experience, there’s always something new that you have to figure out how to work around, especially now when we’ve been shown times of urgency and emergency,” Barefoot said. “We just want to reach as many young individuals as we can to offer them a firsthand look at what we do in general in health care.”