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Northern Regional Hospital, Surry Community College, and Surry-Yadkin Works Receive the 2024 Pinnacle Apprenticeship Champion Award


The inaugural Pinnacle Awards recognize exemplary employers, businesses, or industry groups that have demonstrated extraordinary engagement and a firm commitment to the education and professional development of its employees and the development of NC's workforce through its partnership efforts with one or more of the state's 58 community colleges.

Northern Regional Hospital, Surry Community College, and Surry-Yadkin Works have been awarded a 2024 Pinnacle Award in the Apprenticeship Champion category by the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges. The three entities partnered to address the nursing shortage in rural Surry and Yadkin Counties – increasing access to healthcare by increasing the number of registered nurses employed by the hospital.

The Apprenticeship Champion award recipients demonstrated a commitment to providing structured and meaningful apprenticeship experiences that take creative approaches beyond traditional roles and responsibilities.

"Our goal is to start with students during the career planning phase of middle school and continue throughout high school, so they can learn about their career options in this field and have personal attention with the Health Science Student Success Advisor," said Crystal Folger-Hawks, Surry-Yadkin Works Executive Director.

Since 2021, Northern Regional Hospital has enrolled 105 students in its pre-apprentice program. These healthcare professionals, training as certified nursing assistants and patient care technicians, gain invaluable hands-on experience and earn high school or college credit for their employment. Moreover, they receive a monthly stipend for travel expenses, facilitated through Surry-Yadkin Works and funded by Northern Regional Hospital.

"I am elated that Northern Regional Hospital and Surry-Yadkin Works were selected by the North Carolina Community College System for this most prestigious award. Together, Northern Regional Hospital, Surry-Yadkin Works, and the commissioners from Surry and Yadkin counties have leveraged the resources to create the first youth-apprenticeship program for healthcare in North Carolina. This effort will strengthen the healthcare systems while providing highly desired career opportunities for our students who desire to live here," said Dr. David Shockley, President of Surry Community College.

In addition to its commitment to developing the next generation of healthcare professionals, Northern Regional Hospital is a vital clinical training site for numerous colleges and universities. Over 450 clinical and nursing students benefit annually from the hospital's comprehensive training programs. This partnership ensures that aspiring healthcare professionals in our region have access to high-quality education and training opportunities without the need to leave the area.

"Once I got into the nursing program at Surry, I transitioned to becoming a registered apprentice, and through that program, they provided assistance to help pay for your schooling and working PRN at the hospital. I was getting to work alongside nurses and gain valuable experience, "said Carrie McKeaver, Registered Nurse at Northern Regional Hospital, one of the first students to go through the program.

"For nearly 40 years, I have been privileged to work and partner with many successful community college workforce training programs," said Chris A. Lumsden, President & CEO of Northern Regional Hospital. "I consider this particular partnership and program with Surry-Yadkin Works and Surry Community College among the most creative and important ones to NRH and the residents of this rural region of North Carolina. This 'Grow Our Own' strategy is paramount to the long-term sustainability of Northern and a key to successful economic development in Surry County and our neighboring rural counties."

The award was presented during the 2024 North Carolina Community Colleges Awards Dinner and Celebration on April 17.

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