Cooperative Project provided educational assistance for training staff at Brownwood Regional Medical Center

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Pictured from left to right are Brandy Harper, Nursing Director at Brownwood Regional Medical Center, and Amber Porter Rice, Charge Nurse at Brownwood Regional Medical Center.

Overview of Goals:

In September 2007, the Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board (Board) and the Texas Organization of Rural Community Hospitals (TORCH) formed a cooperative partnership to establish the Educational Assistance Scholarship Fund. This scholarship was to be a model for future development throughout Texas to improve the skill level of healthcare workers and the efficiency of service delivery by rural hospitals. Sustaining and enhancing the fund is a cooperative endeavor by TORCH.

The purpose of the agreement was to provide grant funds for job-specific staff training and development for employees of rural hospitals in the West Central Texas area. The Workforce Board provided $15,000 to establish the fund, which will be administered by TORCH. There were two goals for establishing this grant:

1. Provide financial assistance for education purposes to current qualified employees of TORCH member hospitals within the 19 county Workforce Development Area. Counties in the region include: Brown, Callahan, Coleman, Comanche, Eastland Fisher, Haskell, Jones, Kent, Knox, Mitchell, Nolan, Runnels, Scurry, Shackelford, Stephens, Stonewall, Taylor and Throckmorton.

2. Provide funds to be matched by the hospital employer, thereby increasing the amount of funds available and the commitment of the hospital to the program.

Success Highlights

Brownwood Regional Medical Center has played a major role in the effectiveness and success of this cooperative partnership. Current results indicate 15 current employees have accessed this funding opportunity and upgraded their healthcare training skills, either going from LVN to RN or obtaining their BSN Degree. Ten (10) current employees are currently enrolled in training, and will earn their RN Degree. Some of these individuals, on completion, will receive their BSN Degree.

Brandy Harper, Nursing Director at Brownwood Regional Medical Center, began her career as a Unit Care Tech in 2005 and received her LVN from Ranger College. She chose to continue her training and attained her RN certification at Angelo State University. Brandy states, “I was able to obtain my RN certification because of the assistance offered by BRMC and the TORCH Educational Scholarship.” Brandy is a Director of multiple departments and is responsible for a staff of approximatley120.

Amber Porter Rice, Charge Nurse at Brownwood Regional Medical Center, began her career as a lab phlebotomist in 2006. She attained her LVN in 2007 and RN in 2011. She said “I am very appreciative of the opportunities and for the assistance which was provided by scholarship assistance program.” Amber is continuing her education at UT-Arlington and will soon receive her BSN Degree.

Thanks to BRMC for their response, support and success of the Educational Scholarship initiative. In an effort to continue to assist regional rural hospitals with their training requirements, Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas Board is currently reviewing funding strategies in order to provide future training assistance. For more information, regarding this Educational Scholarship contact Steve Collins, Business Resource Consultant, (325) 795-4304 or