Appalachian Nursing Academy brings new nursing program to help students SOAR into healthcare

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Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 7:47 PM EDT
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PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR) is working with its partners to address the ongoing nationwide nursing crisis with the creation of the Appalachian Nursing Academy.

The academy brought 17 students from across Kentucky’s Appalachian counties into Pikeville last week for a two-week summer program aimed at mentoring, teaching, and exploring the local nursing field.

“You get to see what you might be interested in or what you really just don’t wanna do,” said SOAR CDC Public Health Associate Lilly Helmuth-Malone.

From lectures with educators in the field, to watching a live open heart surgery, the students said they have been exposed to things that have excited them for the future.

“It just is like really beneficial to me because this is like what I want to do,” said Lincoln County Junior Makayla Greer. “And it’s just giving me an idea of how to do it.”

Those involved say connecting with the students where they are and showing them who they can be is one of the reasons they started the program.

“And those were also the students we were trying to reach. Those that maybe showed some kind of interest in healthcare, but didn’t have the background,” said Malone. “You know their family wasn’t in healthcare, where they live doesn’t have a big hospital or a big clinic where they can go reach out and shadow.”

The program is made possible with partnerships between SOAR, the University of Pikeville, Pikeville Medical Center, Kentucky Science Center, Jobs for America’s Graduates, and more. Organizers say working together for the better of the region is always a number one goal.

Friday, a ceremony will take place to celebrate the students’ accomplishments, sending them home with certificates of completion, prizes, and scholarships to be used in the continuance of their educations.

“If they go through this and decide, ‘hey, healthcare isn’t for me,’ That’s okay, too,” said Malone. “You know, we just want to help them on the next steps in their career.”

With the success of the two weeks, they hope to continue the program in the years to come.

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