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Working for an education

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Harrison Memorial scholarship provides financial assistance to medical students

By Kate Darnell

As the demand for health care workers continues to increase across the nation, Harrison Memorial Hospital is hoping to attract more individuals into the classroom and later, the HMH workforce.

“I always knew I wanted to be here locally,” Anastasia Rains said Thursday morning, in between patients at the HMH radiology department.

A 2000 graduate of Harrison County High School, Rains graduated from Lexington Community College with an  arts and science degree and a radiology science degree.

When she graduated in May 2004, she had no student loans and was guaranteed a job before her graduation ceremony even began.

All thanks to the HMH scholarship.

“It was just a great help...” Rains said. “To not only know you have a job when you get out, but also that you have no loans to pay back.”

Every month working at HMH, Rains was awarded $200 (counted as work credit). The monthly amount went to pay back the HMH scholarship that paid for Rains’ tuition and books the two years she pursued her radiology science degree.

Rains is one of the 20 HMH scholarship recipients currently working at the hospital.

“It was paid off within two or three years,” Rains said about the scholarship agreement with the hospital. “It’s been paid off for a while.”

Established in 1967, the HMH scholarship agrees to financially assist those students enrolled in medical programs (nursing, radiology, lab, phlebotomy, medical technician). In exchange, the students are able to pay back the loan by working at HMH after graduation.

In the 43 years of the scholarship’s existence, 152 students have been loaned a total of over $270,000.

The money is given by the Hospital Auxiliary, with funds generated from gift shop sales, said HMH Chief Executive Officer Sheila Currans.

“That’s pretty remarkable,” said Currans.

Currans said many scholarship recipients, who also do clinical work at the local hospital, are able to enter an HMH job already knowing the building, routine and patients.

“You’re already at least a month ahead,” Currans said. “I believe it helps the student greatly.”

Currans said HMH scholarship students are not limited to where they can attend medical training. Recipients include graduates from Maysville Community and Technical College, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Midway, Morehead, Lexington Community College and Eastern Kentucky University.

Scholarship coordinator Julia Fulton said students reapply for the scholarship twice a year and are required to maintain a 2.0 grade point average.

Initially, students interview with a committee as part of the scholarship application process.

“People that have been in health care can tell which applicants have a true sincerity toward the care of patients,” Currans said.

Board chairman for the scholarship committee, Bruce Florence said the interview is essential when picking the candidates.

“The thing I watch for is what do they do under pressure,” Florence said, adding that medical professionals face daily pressures. “The pressure’s really on them... I watch to see how they get along with that...”

Also as MCTC/LVC director, Florence said the local community college campus will soon offer a day RN program, night RN program and a night LPN program, in order to cater to the increasing need for health care workers.

Florence said those programs will be offered beginning in August as part of a grant from the Department of Labor.

“As we branch out, we want there to be more local opportunities for education in health care,” Florence said Thursday morning.

“MCTC/LVC has done a tremendous job in making sure this community isn’t going to suffer from that national nursing shortage,” Currans said.

And with expanding educational opportunities, Currans said she is hoping the HMH scholarship can expand as well.

“I would like us to be able to offer this to more students,” she said. “But we can’t expect the progress to rest on the Auxiliary Board’s shoulders alone...”

Florence said the scholarship board would like to see the community get involved.

“This hospital has been the community’s hospital...” Florence said. “It is the job of every community member to see that these two institutions (MCTC/LVC and HMH)... get stronger and stronger... and this is one place you can make a big difference...”

Fulton said the loan is interest-free and students can make  payments back to HMH if they do not end up working at the hospital.

Fulton said the scholarship had a history of only a 2 percent default record.

“This also gives non-traditional students a chance to get an education,” Fulton said.

With no previous college background and married with two children, Eugonda Fryman fit the description of a non-traditional student.

Employed as a CNA at HMH in 2000, Fryman soon learned about the HMH scholarship.

She decided to start classes at MCTC in 2002.

“The scholarship helped me pay for my way through school,” Fryman said, adding that the scholarship money paid for her tuition and books while she earned her RN degree.

“It just gave me an opportunity to go on and get an education,” she said.

Without the scholarship, Fryman said she isn’t sure she could have afforded the classes.

She is the first college graduate in her family.

“I think they’re very appreciative,” Fulton said about the recipients. “Many tell me their education wouldn’t have been possible without this financial assistance...”

“It’s a win/win all around,” Florence said. “And now we want to bring the community in as new partners.”

For more information, to apply or to donate to the HMH scholarship fund, contact Julia Fulton at 234-2300, ext. 3555.