Chamber Chat – Work-Based Learning

December 05, 2021 | Written by: sanford-user

By Meg Moss, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director

There is frequent talk in the economic development and education and workforce development realm about how to keep talent in Lee County. How can our community connect community college students with future local employers? One way is through work-based learning.

Work-based learning refers to all forms of learning, both initial and continuous, that take place in a real-world environment. It provides students with the skills they need to successfully find and keep jobs, or to advance their career.

One of the local employers that provides work-based learning opportunities to students from Central Carolina Community College recently won the Outstanding Employer Award by the North Carolina Work-Based Learning Association.

Performance Rehabilitation, a privately owned physical therapy clinic located in Sanford, offers physical therapy and industrial rehabilitation services. Their clinic opened its doors in 2008.

Performance Rehabilitation has been a partner for work-based learning at CCCC for almost a decade. Owner Jason Osborne and Practice Manager, Mayra Aguilar have been work-based learning champions for students who provide outstanding and compassionate care.

“We average about four students a year, and when students do clinical rotations, we get to know them and their work ethic. Sometimes we are able to hire the individuals after they graduate” stated Osborne.

Aguilar works directly with the students at CCCC in three program areas: Office Administration, Medical Office Administration and Healthcare Management. Aguilar and the team at Performance Rehabilitation have developed a step-by-step learning environment where students are exposed to all aspects of the modern medical office.

Students start by answering the phones, mastering the art of professional phone etiquette. The importance of the “first impression” is expressed to the students. Students are then given the opportunity to assist with patient scheduling, and then move on to learning how to successfully update and maintain accurate medical records. As a final step in the experience, and as a way to increase the impact for students, Performance Rehabilitation allows students to gain skills in billing and coding, a critical part in any medical office’s revenue management system.

Performance Rehabilitation was also recognized for the Outstanding Employer Award for tirelessly working to expand its impact outside of the traditional classroom. A representative from the company has consistently served on the CCCC Medical Office Administration Program Advisory Committee. This board is comprised of CCCC faculty, adjunct faculty and industry representatives. Their work includes providing opinions on improving the academic program, identifying industry needs and recommendations for increasing job ready skills of graduates.

Students consistently rate Performance Rehabilitation as a top work-based learning employment site. Performance also works with CCCC students by hosting a variety of workshops for all students in the Medical Office Administration, Office Administration and Healthcare Management programs. These workshops have covered industry changes, Medicare and Medicaid billing updates, and how to find a job in these areas after graduation.

Work-based learning experiences can motivate employers to hire job ready individuals, which reduces training costs and improves employee retention. Establishing collaboration among schools and employers leads to a more productive local economy and, ultimately, builds thriving communities. The partnership between Central Carolina Community College and Performance Rehabilitation is proof that this model can be successful.

For employers interested in learning how they can become a work-based learning site, please contact Christina Piard at Central Carolina Community College. She is the Director of Corporate Engagement, and can be reached at or 919-718-7076.