(FRANKFORT, KY) – At its meeting Aug. 7, the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) presented the Kelly Award for Business and Education Partnership to Tammy Brock, chief nursing officer at Rockcastle Regional Hospital in Mount Vernon.
The Kelly Award is given to a Kentucky business or businessperson who has partnered with a public school or district to provide outstanding leadership that promotes school improvement and student success.
Brock works collaboratively with the Rockcastle Area Technology Center (ATC) to develop a strategic partnership leading to student achievement and workforce outcomes in healthcare careers. Under her direction, Rockcastle Regional Hospital was the first healthcare employer in the state to utilize the Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) youth pre-apprenticeship program to hire high school students in health sciences career pathways through a registered apprenticeship program in a model that combines high school career pathways with on-the-job training.
“This is a wonderful example of how business and education can work hand in hand to provide life-changing opportunities for Kentucky students and supply the workforce with home-grown talent,” KBE Chairman Hal Heiner said. “Ms. Brock and Rockcastle Regional Hospital have created a pipeline through which they can offer talented young people exposure to a career in nursing within their own community. They have set an example for other employers not only in healthcare, but in all sectors.”
Students in the health sciences pathway at Rockcastle ATC who become TRACK certified nursing assistant (CNA) candidates obtain paid positions at the hospital during the summer following their junior year. During their senior year, they continue to work for the hospital, receive instruction at the area technology center and work to obtain their CNA certification.
In addition to gaining credit toward their apprenticeship hours, students learn many competencies while at the hospital. The culmination of this program is a journeyperson certification and a continued position at the hospital after graduation from high school. Students who wish to further their education by receiving a postsecondary degree may apply to the hospital’s scholarship program. Students who are selected for that program receive paid tuition to obtain a bachelor’s degree leading to certification as a registered nurse.
The pathway is designed to accommodate stackable credentials, as evidenced through multiple career opportunities. Students may choose to retain a position in the hospital upon graduation without further education. Upon successfully completing the apprenticeship program, students are guaranteed a full-time position with the hospital.
“Ms. Brock and her team have been instrumental in moving Kentucky and Rockcastle County ATC to the forefront with the development of this apprenticeship opportunity,” said Beth Hargis, an administrative consultant in the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education and Student Transition, who nominated Brock for the award. “This partnership sets the bar high for the rest of the state and demonstrates how collaboration between business and industry and education can open the door for increased student and workforce achievement.”