Partnership with South College offers training for Hillcrest staff

Diana FisherOur Town Health

Hillcrest Healthcare, which operates three skilled nursing, rehabilitation and long-term care communities in Knoxville, has partnered with South College to offer tuition reimbursement for employees and their dependents who are interested in pursuing a degree in healthcare.

Funded by Hillcrest Healthcare and a generous institutional grant provided by South College, the reimbursement covers the cost of tuition for the licensed practical nurse (LPN) program. In addition to the reimbursement, South College application fees are waived, and the grant remains in effect as long as the student maintains eligibility.

Tisha Dugger joined Hillcrest Healthcare in 2019 as a housekeeper and worked her way up to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) at the West Hills community. When her colleagues recommended that she enroll in the LPN program, Dugger knew she did not want to miss the opportunity to expand her healthcare knowledge.

“I am grateful that I have the opportunity to move further up in my field,” Dugger said. “I love my residents and the people I work with. They are good at working with my schedule and letting me pursue my career goals.”

Dugger just began her second quarter of classes that will last for 11 weeks. The program continues until December 2022 when Dugger will receive her certificate.

“A typical week means attending class Monday through Thursday after work,” she said. “It is very fast-paced, but I have no complaints because I know it will be worth it in the end.”

Hillcrest Healthcare employees must complete six months of work to be eligible. Employees do not need medical training but must have a high school diploma or GED. Four staff members have already enrolled with more scheduled for upcoming quarters.

The average cost of tuition for LPN programs is $10,000 to $15,000 nationally. Many states require a combination of both classroom and clinical hours to become state licensed as a practical nurse. South College’s LPN program can be completed in as little as 44 weeks. The college offers a range of student-focused perspectives, including hands-on lab experience and clinical experiences at various healthcare facilities.

“A partnership with Hillcrest Healthcare to produce the next generation of practical nurses is beneficial for our community,” South College Chancellor Stephen A. South said. “Together we are committed to assisting their employees with professional development. These students will have a chance to work with great instructors and earn a high-quality education.”

Hillcrest Healthcare offers additional employee development programs, including free in-house cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certifications, IV certifications for LPNs, learning partnerships with local health systems, CNA program, free certifications and continuing education.

Diana Fisher, BSW, LNHA, is director of business development at Hillcrest Healthcare.


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