Ash Flat, AR -- As we continue to shine the good neighbor spotlight on Sharp county, this story comes to us from Ash Flat.
The Ash Flat campus of Ozarka College is adding an Licienced Practical Nurse (LPN) program which starts this August.
22 year old mother of two Kristina Thomas will be among the 20 students in the pioneer nursing program at the college.
"This is fifteen minutes from my house so it's very convenient. I was excited when I heard about it because I wanted to be here locally," said Thomas.
Fllowing in her mother's footsteps, becoming a nurse is right up her alley.
A self proclaimed people person, Kristina is looking forward to the fast pace, work intense LPN program.
She knows when she's done with school the opportunities for nurses are endless.
"It doesn't matter if you like babies, or the elderly you can go to just any setting," said Thomas.
Dr. Dusty Johnston is president of Ozarka College.
"If we're going to start programs and invest money, it needs to be in something realistic for where we are at....where people can actually get jobs," said Dr. Johnston.
Dr. Johnston says it's a win/win situation because they will be meeting the needs of a community desperate for health care workers--essentially training men and women for jobs that are waiting for them when they finish school.
North Central Arkansas is aging therefore more and more people are going to be in allied health fields to take care of them. The jobs are here and it's just going to grow. Also people don't really like to move off so we're going to be training people for the jobs that are here," said Dr. Johnston.
It's taken a year to build this program on the Ash Flat campus of Ozarka College and when the first class starts in August 20th. Students in the program will complete the program after 11 months of lectures in the classroom and in clinical settings.
Ruby Johnson is Director of Nursing at Ozarka.
"White River Medical Center is opening that new multi million dollar building and they have been so supportive of our venture," said Johnson.
Johnson says she is confident in the new nursing program in Ash Flat.
Johnson says she will maintain the good reputation with the health care providers by delivering to Sharp and surrounding counties the very best nurses the school can offer.
"They know if a graduate goes through my program they are not afraid to work and they know they will do the very best they can," said Johnson.