From kitchen to operating room? How hundreds of hospital employees, from cooks to lab workers, went to nursing school — for free

A hospital system in Northern Texas has been offering hundreds of its employees the chance to go to nursing school and get an associate degree in nursing — for free, Dallas News reported this week.

Medical City Healthcare, which runs 13 hospitals, will pay for their tuition, fees, books and uniforms, as long as they make a two-year commitment to work full time as a registered nurse.

The program is called “Texas 2-Step Nursing Pathway,” because the second step is obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. What makes it stand out is that any employee can apply. An “array of employees, from kitchen staff to secretaries and lab workers to telephone operators,” have taken the opportunity.

Photo: Graduates from Medical City's 2-Step Nursing Pathway program.

Graduates from Medical City’s 2-Step Nursing Pathway program. Photo:

Some 350 nurses have completed the program since the first class graduated in 2010, and 84% of the program’s graduates remain in the hospital system’s network.

It’s a novel way of tackling the nursing shortage, and Tricia Scott, the company’s director for workforce development, argues that it’s still cheaper “than the process of recruiting nurses externally”.

Do you think your own employer should follow suit?

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I am an LVN with 19 years experience from Labor and Delivery to Management. I also hold a B.S. in Healthcare Administration. I want to complete my RN as well and I need to work part-time. I am a Divorced Mom with a 13 year old daughter. I think online would be ideal for me. I want to teach the next generation. I need help ASAP!!!

    Talitha, that’s really impressive! If I were an employer I’d be pretty impressed with that mix of experience, education, ambition and grit! Have you tried registering on this site and filling out your profile? Maybe you can find good opportunities that way, or recruiters will find you!