Since 2001, Hillsdale Hospital has awarded over $3 million in tuition assistance to over 48 Hillsdale County high school students with aspirations of becoming registered nurses.
Hillsdale County high school students interested in nursing school can apply to the hospital for tuition assistance. If accepted, the hospital will help with expenses of colleges in and outside of Hillsdale, with the obligation that students return to Hillsdale and work for the hospital for four years.Judy Gabriele, director of development at Hillsdale Hospital, explained that the program is designed not only to help aspiring nurses reach their goal, but also to increase the presence of registered nurses in the county.
“We decided it would be best to start training and sending people to schools that wanted stay in the community,” Gabriele said. “Throughout interviews, we are interested in students who present themselves as having family here, and wanting to work here, live here, and be around family. We know those are the ones for us.”
Gabriele said that in the early 2000s, the hospital was inundated with statistics suggesting that there would be a widespread scarcity of registered nurses in the greater Hillsdale area. Healthcare providers are still one of the top 25 most needed professional groups in the nation,
according to the Brooke Ballee-Stone, supervisor of the Jackson Career Center. The Center partners with Hilldale Hospital to spread awareness about their tuition program.
“Kids always say they want to leave the city they grew up in. They want to spread their wings and go,” Ballee-Stone said. “One of the things it think this program really does, is it helps kids to see that it is really cool to give back to the community instead of going somewhere else to work.”
Ballee-Stone said that a lot of students who come to the Career Center for its Certified Nursing Assistant program, hear about the tuition exchange through the Center, and immediately want to apply.
“We work together. That’s what you see about Hillsdale, everyone seems to work together and pitch in together,” Ballee-Stone said. “But the hospital supplies the money, which is absolutely amazing.”
When asked about success cases, both Gabriele and Ballee-Stone recalled the same student’s story. A Hillsdale high school graduate applied to the program last year, whose mother and both maternal and paternal grandmothers, worked as nurses in Hillsdale. Her dream was to work alongside them. Hillsdale Hospital accepted her to the program, and now she has the capability to realize that aspiration.
“I thought that was so cool,” Ballee-Stone said. “The program does a whole lot of good especially for those kids who can’t afford to go, and to foster that community. Its bringing Hillsdale back, by giving back to the community.”