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SOUTH WILLIAMSON, Ky. - Timothy Pack has a lot of professional plans and Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) is rapidly becoming critical in making those plans a reality.

Pack was just named an ARH Scholar, which carries a financial grant of $2,500 for the academic year 2017-2018 with an option for an additional $2,500 next year, according to a news release.

"ARH is really helping me out with this scholarship," said Pack. "I was pretty worried about the money, but now I can focus on everything else around me including nursing school." Pack is on track to become a registered nurse when he graduates from the nursing program at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College.

Pack is employed at Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center, where he is a patient care associate.

"I'm in the emergency department and in pediatrics. I love it there because you get to see all kinds of patients. You get so much experience."

When school starts in the fall, Pack may have to reduce his hours, but he knows ARH will work around his schedule to accommodate academic demands. "I'll want to work a couple of days a week and when things get demanding with tests, I will cut back to one day a week," he explained. "It's really nice they are so flexible."

There is also the added benefit of having a team of RNs who are ready to help Pack ace the course work.

"The good thing about working in the hospital while going to school is that everyone helps me. I can ask questions of anyone and all the nurses are so kind and willing to help."

He also has his mother, who works along side him at the Tug Valley facility. She is the head nurse manager in the pediatric and obstetrics departments.

"I'm just following in my mom's footsteps," said Pack. "She has led the way for me." It was Trena Pack who sponsored her son's application for the ARH Scholars award.

As part of his award, Pack will be provided a mentor from ARH who will work with him as he completes Southern's program and sits for the national test for registered nurses, NCLEX. "I feel pretty good about completing the course work. I graduated from high school with a 3.94 GPA and high ACT scores, but there are a lot of things which can derail your course work. A mentor will be so helpful in everything from sticking to a budget to making sure you are taking the right courses."

As Pack progresses through the nursing course work, he will apply to be selected as an ARH nurse extern, which allows for even more hands on work than what he is able to do as a patient care associate. "Being a nurse extern allows you to really start to become an RN," he said, and they pay you to learn when you are a nurse extern."

After being licensed as an RN, Pack will begin to take on his next challenge-becoming a nurse practitioner (NP). That is in his five-year plan. "I still want to be in the emergency department at ARH, but I want to practice as an NP. It's a personal goal, and hopefully ARH will be with me all the way."

Pack says then he'll be able to focus on things he likes to do such as enjoying the outdoors and fishing.

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