Partnership will help ARH workers complete degree work

Published 4:24 pm Monday, September 11, 2023

By Jordan Brooks

Recently Gov. Andy Beshear announced a partnership with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to launch a new initiative, Education First Employers.

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As part of this partnership Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Hospital and Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College have partnered to create the ARH Healthcare Scholarship for the SKCTC Registered Nursing Program.

Many employers in Kentucky employ workers trying to further their education. So students don’t have to make the choice between working or learning, KCTCS Education First Employers is a network of Kentucky companies that offers benefits to students, helping them to complete their education in the workplace.

“Southeast has a long history of partnership with Appalachian Regional Hospital,” said Vic Adams, president of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College. “We’ve been providing healthcare and nursing programs for many years including nursing, LPN, CPA.”

This scholarship offers those who are SKCTC nursing students the opportunity to graduate debt free when they commit to work at ARH after becoming a licensed registered nurse.

“ARH is committed to fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth. Our decision to become an education-first employer aligns with our dedication to the professional development of both current and new employees,” said Dylon Baker, director of talent acquisition of ARH. “By offering educational benefits, we aim to support employees, and students, in furthering their skills and advancing their careers.”

Baker says this initiative benefits ARH by creating a more skilled and motivated workforce, ultimately enhancing the quality of care and services we provide. He says it will also attract top talent who value opportunities for education and career advancement.

Southeast will award 25 scholarships beginning this fall. Each semester, Southeast and ARH will award 10 scholarships.

Both new and current students enrolled in the two-year RN program at SKCTC will be eligible to apply for awards of up to $15,000.

“We encourage and support individuals like LPNs aspiring to become RNs to take advantage of the educational benefits provided by our organization,” said Baker. “In the nursing field, we offer a wide range of perks to assist with this advancement including scholarships and externships. This not only benefits our employees but also strengthens our healthcare team and the communities we serve.”

This partnership aims to help alleviate student debt and address the nursing crisis in the region.

Students who commit to the program must agree to serve in the region with ARH for two to three years, depending on the specific stipulations of the student’s scholarship. Those enrolled must be a full time staff member or nurse with the agency or home health service, and students do not have to work in Middlesboro. This scholarship does not affect employee benefits, and employees are still eligible for ARH’s student loan repayment program. Baker says this scholarship does not affect an employee’s compensation, as this scholarship is solely to support education.