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APSU alum, nurse chosen to meet with U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary

The much-publicized shortage of health care workers, especially qualified nurses, has led to partnerships between the federal government and health care corporations, such as HCA, to create innovative job-training programs.
The much-publicized shortage of health care workers, especially qualified nurses, has led to partnerships between the federal government and health care corporations, such as HCA, to create innovative job-training programs.

When U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary Emily Stover DeRocco visited Nashville this week to tour Centennial Medical Center and meet a few employees who have benefited from such job-training programs, HCA Chairman and CEO Jack Bovender Jr. introduced her to three women, one of whom is training to be a radiology technician and one, an operating room technician.

The other employee DeRocco talked with was Tamara Shoemaker, a critical care nurse at Skyline and a graduate of APSU's baccalaureate nursing program.

An HCA scholarship helped her attain a bachelor's degree in nursing. According to Shoemaker, the scholarship not only paid for virtually all her tuition and fees at APSU but, even before she graduated, she received a guaranteed job with HCA.

“It not only changed my life, but also the lives of my (four) children,” said Shoemaker, who was the first in her family to graduate from high school.

Although she always wanted to earn a college degree, her marriage at 19 followed by the births of her sons, Andrew, Justin and Benjamin, put her college dreams on a back burner.

Ironically, the adoption of her fourth child, Michelle, a victim of shaken-baby syndrome, was the deciding factor in her decision to become a nurse. Caring for a brain-damaged child with cerebral palsy brought Shoemaker in constant contact with doctors and nurses.

“I realized there's a great need for competent, caring professionals who not only know the job but understand what people are going through,” she says.

In 2001, she enrolled at APSU as a nontraditional student. To expedite her entry into APSU's baccalaureate nursing program a year early, she not only took classes on the main campus, she also took night classes, online classes and classes at the APSU Center @ Fort Campbell.

“I knocked out nine hours in my own kitchenin the middle of the night, if I needed to,” she said. “ I used everything the University offered to reach my goal.”

Besides earning a bachelor's degree in nursing, Shoemaker became a spokesperson for the prevention of shaken-baby syndrome, working with state legislators to reduce its incidence. On Monday, she took the opportunity to thank DeRocco and Bovender for her scholarship.

HCA has been involved in grants in 19 states, as well as partnerships to bring nurses and other allied health care professionals to the workforce more quickly.

“This is a great example of a public-private partnership addressing two serious needs in our country: unemployment and the national shortage of healthcare workers,” said Bovender.

For more information about APSU's Bachelor of Science in Nursing or the new online Master of Science in Nursing, telephone the APSU School of Nursing at (931) 221-7710.
—Dennie Burke