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Gov. Andy Beshear announces program to target Kentucky’s nursing shortage

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 5:24 PM EST
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - The University of Pikeville (UPIKE) and Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) are announcing a new educational and employment opportunity for nursing students.

On Thursday, December 2 UPIKE President, Dr. Burton J. Webb, PMC President and CEO, Donovan Blackburn and Governor Andy Beshear shared the creation of the Rural Health Nursing Fellowship program for nursing students which guarantees employment upon completion.

”Our problem is is that there’s this huge thing called a pandemic that’s swept our country,” said Donovan Blackburn, President and CEO of Pikeville Medical Center. “There was already a nursing shortage and this exasperated that.”

Students who complete the two year Associate’s Degree program will also receive full tuition reimbursement. PMC leaders recognized that there may be a time when there are more graduates than open jobs. In that case, after 60 days post-graduation, the student will be free to pursue employment anywhere and still receive the tuition reimbursement.

”There are over a thousand openings in Eastern Kentucky with good pay,” said Gov. Beshear. “As your Governor, what I wouldn’t do to attract a new industry that has a thousand jobs at that pay.”

Hospital officials praised the way staff have handled the pandemic.

”It’s our staff that makes it work,” said Blackburn. “They’re the ones wearing masks 12 hours a day working four to five shifts, [with] plenty of overtime, taking care of their communities. Not just here, but across the nation.”

Gov. Beshear added he hopes to see more partnerships like this one form across the Commonwealth.

”This isn’t just the right thing for our healthcare system, it’s the right thing for our people,” Gov. Beshear said. “It’s how we get people in this region good jobs to be able to stay in this region and to be able to take care of one another.”

The Fellowship is the continuation of a memorandum of cooperation between UPIKE and PMC to address the ongoing nursing shortage in Kentucky.

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