Eleven individuals were recently named as Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) Scholars, which provides an initial $2,500 scholarship to be used toward obtaining a medical laboratory or nursing degree. The awards, renewable for a second year of study, have a total value of $5,000 per recipient.
“We are very excited about these ARH Scholars,” said Joe Grossman, President and CEO of ARH. “The winners are very diverse as well as deserving. The competition was intense, but all the winners had one thing in common—their desire to further their education so they can give back to the communities we serve. Once this exciting group of students complete their training, we will have medical laboratory professionals and registered nurses ranging from having an associate’s degree to a master’s of science degree.”
The inaugural group of ARH Scholars consisted of employees and their families, but according to Christopher Johnson, System Director Employee and Labor Relations at ARH, the 2018 ARH Scholars competition will be open to the public. “This was our first effort so we limited it, but we will expand the program for the next round. We will always show priority to our employees and their families, but we also want to look at individuals who are very deserving but not yet part of the ARH family.”
According to Johnson, the selection committee used a point system for ranking candidates. “There were several parts to the application process,” explained Johnson, “and each section carried an assigned number of points depending on the importance we gave to that section. For example, we thought the essay was more important than just completing the process of being accepted into a program of study, so the essay carried a much larger point total.”
Each applicant was required to submit a budget showing how they would pay for schooling and how the ARH award would contribute to living and travel expenses, as well as pay for schooling, books, tuition and other educational costs. “Before we found a candidate deserving, we needed to satisfy, in our minds that they were on a solid path to obtaining their desired degree,” said Johnson. “Sometimes it seems students sign up for a program of study and they really don’t have a clear idea of what it takes for completion.”
In addition to helping pay for the educational program, ARH wanted to provide Scholars with something the ARH leadership team thought was just as important as financial help. “Each winner will be assigned a mentor,” said Grossman. “So many parents of our students in eastern Kentucky and southwestern West Virginia did not go to college so the students need to find other support. So we wanted to provide just one more layer to ensure success. The mentors will work with each recipient throughout their course of study, answering questions, providing leadership on deadlines and course requirements.”
For ARH Scholars who are already employed by ARH, consideration will be given to their individual work schedule and how that might need to change. “We will be looking at what is best for the employee,” said Johnson. “If we have an ARH Scholar who isn’t currently an employee, but rather a family member is, consideration for providing a part- or full-time job for the student will be considered. We want to provide as much support as possible on as many levels as possible.”
Joshua Shepherd, one of the 11 ARH Scholars, says while this scholarship will help him move from his current position as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) to a registered nurse (RN), he doesn’t want to stop with his RN license. “My ultimate goal is to become a nurse anesthetist,” he said. “I want to be the best at what I am doing, so that will mean more study. I’m up for it. I want to help my patients get back to being the best they can possibly be physically.”
Shepherd currently works at the Hazard Veterans Clinic, part of the Lexington VA Medical Center, so it was his sister, Tammie Shepherd-Smith, who works for ARH in Hazard, who provided his eligibility to apply for the award. “I’ll end up working for ARH,” said Shepard, “but it was good she got me in. This award means the world for me because it takes a lot of the financial burden off of me and my family.” Shepherd commented that he didn’t want the ARH Scholars program to end with his award. “My wife is an LPN so I’d love to see her step up next.”
Two of the winners have already started their studies at Hazard Community and Technical College (HCTC) and both acknowledge the scholarship will cover much of the tuition. “It just takes so much of the stress off so I can focus on studying” said Kelsey Lowe, who worked as a nurse aide at an ARH facility when a student at Perry County Central High School. “I live at home so I don’t have to pay rent or anything. This makes going to school and studying to become a RN so much easier.”
Taylor Hurt, who is also attending HCTC and is studying to become a registered nurse (RN), is looking forward to working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or the Emergency Department (ED). “I love the intensity and fast pace of those areas and I like giving back to my community.”
Timothy Pack, who is currently employed at Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center, wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps by becoming an RN. Treana Pack is the Head Nurse Manager in the pediatric department at Tug Valley ARH and she sponsored Timothy’s application. “All these years she’s been a great nurse and I knew what I wanted to do,” he said. “I’d already exhausted my academic scholarships so this is a great help. I was really surprised when I received the notification I had won. Great news!”
The following individuals were named ARH Scholars for 2017:
- Trista Tackett, of Betsy Layne, KY, will be studying nursing at Big Sandy Community and Technical College. She was sponsored by Stephanie Owens who works at ARH Systems Center in Hazard.
- Joshua Shepherd, from Lost Creek, KY, will be attending Galen College of Nursing studying for his RN degree. He was sponsored by Tammie Shepherd-Smith, who works at ARH in Hazard.
- Kelsey Lowe, who was sponsored by ARH Hazard employee Susan Lowe, will be attending Hazard Community and Technical College, studying for an RN degree. She is from Hazard.
- Jessica Cornett, from Letcher, KY, will be attending Galen College of Nursing studying to become a registered nurse. She is currently employed by ARH in Whitesburg.
- Timothy Pack, a native of Delbarton, WV, will be studying to become a registered nurse at Southern WV Community and Technical College. Pack is currently employed with Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center.
- Tara Buckley will be attending the University of Kentucky in Lexington, studying medical laboratory science. From Shelbiana, KY, she was sponsored by Dwight Buckley, an employee at Whitesburg ARH.
- Melinda Ratliff, of Prestonsburg, KY, will study at the University of Cincinnati to become a medical technologist. She is currently employed at McDowell ARH.
- Tiffany Stallard, who is employed at ARH in Hazard, will attend Galen College of Nursing working toward an RN degree. She is from Whitesburg, KY.
- Weston Patrick, of Carrie, KY, will be studying to become an RN at Galen College of Nursing. Patrick was sponsored by Tonya Delph, who works at ARH System Center in Hazard.
- Taylor Hurt, from Slemp, KY, will be working toward an RN degree at Hazard Community and Technical College. Hurt was sponsored by Charla Hurt, an employee at Hazard ARH.
- Kendra Wiseman, of Hazard, will be working toward a master’s in science nursing degree at Indiana Wesleyan. She is employed at the ARH System Center in Hazard.