Jump starting healthcare careers

By Allison Perry

Kentucky high school students can get an early start on a nursing degree and  career with a new program

A new program developed by Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) and UK HealthCare will accelerate the path toward a health care career for high school students.

Known as the Healthcare Jumpstart Program, the initiative will first focus on nursing, allowing students to complete prerequisite courses for a two-year nursing degree while still in high school.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of the Healthcare Jumpstart Program and to begin offering this option to high school students who are interested in pursuing a nursing career,” said Mark F. Newman, M.D., UK executive vice president for health affairs. “It’s no secret that the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the need for more health care providers not just in Kentucky, but in the nation. Working with our partners at BCTC and the Kentucky public school system, we’re committed to fulfilling our mission of improving patient care and educating the next generation of Kentucky health care workers.”

The initiative will first launch at Garrard County High School and expand to other Kentucky counties soon after.

In December 2021, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order declaring a state of emergency relating to the nursing shortage in Kentucky. The Kentucky Nurses Association reports that even with 89,000 licensed nurses in the state, that number is still 12-20% short of the amount needed to care for patients here.

Through the Healthcare Jumpstart Program, participating high school students will be given dual-credit course options that will allow them to complete the prerequisite courses for a health care-focused program of study through BCTC while also earning credits toward that high school graduation. UK HealthCare advanced practice providers will be providing some of the instruction.

After graduation, students can enter BCTC and continue on the fast-track to earn an associate degree in nursing. While completing this program, they will also have the option to accept a full-tuition scholarship from UK HealthCare, guaranteeing employment upon graduation. Students who accept this scholarship will agree to work at UK HealthCare as a registered nurse for three years after earning their degree.

“BCTC is always looking for ways we can partner with our community to provide opportunities for students,” BCTC President Koffi Akakpo said. “The Healthcare Jumpstart Program provides means for our youngest students to get started on their pathway to a career while in high school, saving time and money. These students can graduate debt-free and have a job waiting for them. We are pleased to work with UK Healthcare to make this possible for our students.”

Jumpstart participants will begin the program during their freshman year of high school. Offering this support to those interested in a nursing career at this early age offers a number of benefits to students: exploring and cultivating their interest in a health care career, saving time and money as they earn their credentials, and laying the foundation for a future career at UK HealthCare.

“We are excited to join with UK HealthCare and Bluegrass Community and Technical College in the launch of the Healthcare Jumpstart Program,” said Kevin Stull, superintendent of Garrard County schools. “Students in Garrard County have always had access to a great Health Science Pathway through Garrard County High School and the Garrard Area Technology Center, but the chance for our students to prepare for their career in ways like never before – access to college instructors, opportunities to earn college credits in high school, scholarships, and potential job offers – right at their fingertips will be increased immeasurably through this partnership.”

This article was originally posted here.


Allison Perry

is deputy public relations director for the University of Kentucky’s Medical Campus bureau.