HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital Thursday awarded a $15,000 scholarship to Okaloosa Technical College to support efforts to strengthen and expand the state’s healthcare workforce.
The funding is part of HCA Healthcare’s ongoing commitment to partnering with organizations to help develop a diverse pool of future healthcare leaders and is designed to ensure that every student has the same opportunity to graduate and attain a high-quality degree or industry certification.
“The ability to provide care for our communities today and for the future fully depends on a robust healthcare workforce,” said Zach McCluskey, chief executive officer, HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital. “We are proud to partner with Okaloosa Technical College to ensure the future generation of healthcare workers have an opportunity to attain a high-quality degree or industry certification to help serve the future healthcare needs for North Florida and the surrounding communities.”
Currently, students enrolled in the nursing program at Okaloosa Technical College complete a one-year clinical training at HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital as part of the curriculum to obtain their Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) certification. The scholarship will provide these students with assistance in obtaining their nursing education.
Earlier this year, HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital announced the Health Academy of Northwest Florida, a joint partnership with the Okaloosa County School District, which provides high school juniors and seniors interested in healthcare careers the opportunity to earn industry certifications. The Okaloosa County School District also has an agreement with Okaloosa Technical College allowing high school students the opportunity to dual enroll – taking high school and college nursing courses simultaneously. This extended partnership solidifies the community’s commitment to healthcare workforce development.
“Okaloosa Technical College is honored to receive these scholarship funds from HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital to offer students an opportunity to gain careers in the healthcare industry after graduation,” said Jon Williams, director, Okaloosa Technical College. “This partnership provides a path toward college completion and meaningful employment for students.”
“Community partnerships such as the nursing program are integral to the success of our school district,” said Okaloosa County School District Superintendent Marcus Chambers. “While giving students a clearer picture of what it means to be in the medical field, this program not only allows students to earn an industry certification, but the ability to transition from that pipeline to the workforce.”
HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital is constantly seeking opportunities to collaborate with organizations to expand our outreach and attract compassionate, talented individuals to the healthcare field.
“At HCA Healthcare, we believe partnerships are essential to advancing our mission to care for and improve human lives,” said Caroline Stewart, chief nursing officer, HCA Florida Fort Walton-Destin Hospital. “Partnering with organizations like Okaloosa Technical College allows us to do more for our communities than we can do separately.”
Additionally, HCA Healthcare continues to invest in the ongoing education and development of its colleagues and, as an enterprise, contributed more than $41 million to community organizations in 2021.