Aspiring nurses signing ceremony held at Princeton Community Hospital

For these aspiring nurses, having the support of Princeton Community Hospital and Bluefield State University is everything.

Nursing had always been in the back of Nicole Alley’s mind but she thought she couldn’t do it. Then her husband came down with COVID pneumonia in 2021 and was on a ventilator for nine days. She says the nurses at Princeton Community Hospital she spoke to for the duration of his stay were incredibly supportive.

“The love and support that they showed me through the phone it was amazing to me,” said aspiring nurse Alley. “And I thought that if somebody could do that just by being over the phone what can you do in person.”

The hospital provides financial assistance to the nursing students once they’ve been accepted into the program at Bluefield State, up to $25,000. In return, PCH asks for a three-year work commitment. It takes a special kind of person who wants to be a nurse.

“They really have a heart, they really want to stay here in the community and take care of their loved ones,” said Tim Anderson, vice president of patient care services/chief nursing officer.

Working with the nursing students on a daily basis the director of associate degree nursing at Bluefield State says they know the needs they have going to school. Even with scholarships and financial aid — there are still things that can be barriers to them finishing their degree.

“Such as making a car payment or putting food on the table, cause ya know a lot of our students have children, they have families, they may be taking care of parents,” said BSU’s Sandra Wynn.

Nicole will earn her nursing degree in 2025 and would like to stay close to home but she also has another idea inspired by one of her classes.

“We actually went out to rural communities down in McDowell County and I honestly was kind of looking at volunteering and helping people out there who maybe don’t have clinics and hospitals available to them every day,” Alley said.

According to Wynn, those financial funds will make a difference.

“Keep them in school so they can finish the program on time and be a nurse and be better for their families,” said the director of associate degree nursing.

Anderson says he’s very proud of this class (40 percent male, a little higher for the population than usually goes into nursing, and 60 percent female).

He added that of the 30 who interviewed they chose 13 to go forward in the program.

“Really, we felt like we chose the best of the best that are really going to be great nurses.” he said.

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