Dobson, NC – February 11, 2021. The first youth apprentice program for registered nurses in
North Carolina started with 13 Surry-Yadkin Works interns who began working as employees of
Northern Regional Hospital in January. Twelve of the students were hired as certified nursing
assistants, and one is employed as a patient care technician. “This creative apprentice program is consistent with Northern Regional Hospital’s mission and philosophy of investing in people and our community. Collaborating with our local public school systems and Surry Community College embraces our approach to ‘growing your own’ talent to address a nursing shortage while also helping students achieve their professional aspirations. If
we invest in people, they will in return invest in us,” said Chris A. Lumsden, President and Chief
Executive Officer, Northern Regional Hospital.
This special opportunity is a part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program and
the state’s ApprenticeshipNC program through the N.C. Community College System Office that
combines a paid work-based learning experience with classroom academics leading to a national
certification. These students have the opportunity to earn free tuition for the Associate Degree
Nursing program through Surry Community College that allows students to become registered
nurses. Northern Regional Hospital is also registering students for licensed practical nurse
apprenticeships. “Originally, we were offering seven pre-apprentice opportunities; however, we were so
impressed with the students that we expanded our internship placement to 13 students,” said
Christi Smiley, Human Resource Director, Northern Regional Hospital.
The students went through an extensive interview process where they were pre-screened and
then interviewed by a hospital committee and evaluated in many areas including
communication skills, enthusiasm, confidence, professionalism, program knowledge, and
evidence of preparation for a career in healthcare.
“A major component of the apprenticeship program is a mentorship that provides one-on-one
support to the apprentices. We matched each student with a mentor in seven of the hospital’s
departments – Intensive Care Unit, Medical Surgical Unit, Step Down Unit, Skilled Nursing,
Obstetrics, Emergency Department, and Operating Room. We wanted the students to have well-rounded
experiences and place them in a department with a mentor that suited their
personality, strengths, and career goals.”
The students began their apprenticeships on January 11, and they will work through May 15.
They will receive high school or college credit for their employment along with a stipend each
month for travel expenses.
The students are: Laney Cave, Carrie McKeaver, and Ashley Sewell of Surry Central High School;
Jenny Cortes and Natalie Evans of Mount Airy High School; Tynlee Jones and Julie Marshall of
East Surry High School; Katie Kellam of Elkin High School; Eryn O’Neal and Annsley Puckett of
North Surry High School; Emily Santiago Orellana of Surry Early College High School; Anna
Serrano of Starmount High School; and Reagan Wooten of Forbush High School.
“We have a nursing shortage in the nation, and the apprenticeship program is a way to increase
the number of qualified nurses locally and regionally. These students can get paid while going to
school to earn their credentials and finish their education debt-free,” Smiley said. “I would like
to see this apprenticeship program grow to include other hospitals and medical practices in a
synergistic relationship to recruit and retain qualified medical professionals for our region
through a healthcare consortium.”
Surry-Yadkin Works is the first community-based internship program of its kind in North
Carolina, officially beginning on January 1, 2021, covering a two-county region. The program has
hit the ground running with 50 students being placed in internships for Spring 2021
semester. Surry-Yadkin Works is the collaborative effort of four public school systems in Surry
and Yadkin counties including Elkin City Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools,
and Yadkin County Schools, as well as Surry Community College, to create an innovative and
unique approach to a regional internship program. The funding is also a joint effort with
commitments from the Surry County Commissioners and the Yadkin County Commissioners. An
anonymous contributor donated $100,000 prompted by a presentation about the program at an
A virtual kickoff event will be held March 9, for Surry-Yadkin Works business partners and those
businesses who would like to join the effort.
The Surry-Yadkin Works pre-apprentices, who are employed at Northern Regional Hospital,
are top to bottom, left to right: Laney Cave, Carrie McKeaver, and Ashley Sewell of Surry Central
High School; Jenny Cortes and Natalie Evans of Mount Airy High School; Tynlee Jones and Julie
Marshall of East Surry High School; Katie Kellam of Elkin High School; Eryn O’Neal and Annsley Puckett of North Surry High School; Emily Santiago Orellana of Surry Early College High School; Anna Serrano of Starmount High School; and Reagan Wooten of Forbush High School.
The mission of Surry-Yadkin Works is to support the economic vitality of the region by matching
interns with business partners to meet the needs of the community. Elkin City Schools, Mount
Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, and Yadkin County Schools along with Surry Community
College will prepare students for work-based learning, assist with industry-recognized
credentials, and aid in enrolling in career and technical college courses. In addition, we will
provide mutually beneficial links between students and employers with the goal of increasing
skilled workers in our community.