In recent years, a crisis surrounding workforce shortages in healthcare has been at the forefront of issues being addressed by hospitals and medical facilities across the country, state and here in Eastern Kentucky. After months of planning and coordinating efforts between multiple collaborating agencies, Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) announced an initiative aimed at combating these issues called Project HEART (Healthcare Employment Around Regional Training).

Through Project HEART, PMC has worked closely with educational institutions in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia to increase the number of programs offering certifications, associate and bachelor’s degrees in the fields of nursing, laboratory, respiratory therapy, radiology and more.

This initiative sparked tremendous growth, particularly in the number of nursing student seats available for those in Eastern Kentucky wishing to embark on a career in nursing. In 2020, there were 80 nursing seats available in the Pikeville area, but that number is projected to be well over 300 by the end of 2023 in nursing programs at the University of Pikeville, Big Sandy Community and Technical College, Galen College of Nursing and American National University.

Furthermore, organizations such as Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), Big Sandy Community Action Program, Jobs for Kentucky’s Graduates (JAG), KY HealthCorps (AmeriCorps) and Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program (EKCEP) have joined to collaborate with PMC to ensure the continued success of Project HEART.

Through Project HEART and the collaborative efforts that exist within it, scholarships and other funding opportunities have been made available to students wishing to enter a multitude of healthcare fields.

To learn more about PMC’s Project Heart, visit or scan the code provided.