Originally posted on WLOX.
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – For working mother Lauren Fernandez, dropping everything and changing career paths remained a pipe dream.
“I have two kids, so I’m a working mom and my husband is working; and I couldn’t just afford to stop working and go back to school,” Fernandez said. “Kids take money, school takes money, life takes money.”
When Fernandez learned about opportunities for her career growth within Singing River’s Healthcare Academy, she realized her dream to become a surgical technician could soon become a reality.
Now, more students like her can take advantage of the same opportunities through the state’s first ever medical apprenticeship program – all at no cost.
Mississippi’s Governor Tate Reeves touting the program for being an innovative employment solution as health care systems work through unprecedented staffing shortages.
“We’ve talked a lot about the need for training Mississippians for the jobs of the next 50 years not for the jobs of the last 50years,” Governor Reeves said. “We know that here in Jackson County, there is going to be a continued need for significantly more resources.”
The Singing River Healthcare Academy grew from humble beginnings into a multi-million dollar facility.
“The potential when we get through with this thing is to have 1,000 students come out, going to school, working and being paid to do that,” Singing River CEO Tiffany Murdock said.
I think it’s a model that’s brilliant and one that will work not only here but around the state,” Governor Reeves said.
As state and local leaders break ground on the Ocean Springs site, Fernandez is scrubbing up to put on her surgical cap for graduation, reveling how she was among the first group of students to come through the program.
“It’s an amazing opportunity to be able to get in and have a refresher and get to the operating room,” Fernandez said.
Singing River hopes to break the ribbon for the facility in the fall of 2024.