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Youth Prodigy Program a boon

We’d like to see more incentives like the Youth Prodigy Program administered by Texas Health Resources’ Center for Learning and Career Development to encourage young people to pursue careers in the nursing profession.

Established in 2006, the Youth Prodigy Program offers training and employment for people who are interested in earning an associate’s degree in nursing before going on to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

The program is designed to help alleviate a nursing shortage that could worsen as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age, according to a news release about the program.

The shortage of health care personnel, especially nurses, is a concern, and the aging population is not the only factor that points to it being an ongoing problem. Recent reforms in health care could put an even greater demand on existing resources.

We need to do all we can to ensure a healthy future for the nursing profession while extending a helping hand to young people who want to get a leg up into specialized training.

The Youth Prodigy Program does both. Participants tell us that it provides a “jump-start” that allows them to get valuable experience before nursing school.

Through Feb. 18, Texas Health Resources is accepting applications from students interested in joining the Youth Prodigy Program.

Every summer, the program starts a new cohort and a maximum of 25 applicants are selected for the program, said Kevin Kiley, program manager and career and management development manager at Texas Health Resources.

The vast majority of applicants are recent high school graduates, and Texas Health Resources looks to select applicants for the Youth Prodigy Program who are strong in academics, have a clear dedication and drive to become a nurse and who have strong interpersonal and communication skills, Kiley said.

Program participants are paid while participating in an eight- to 10-week summer training session. Once the students pass a national patient care technician certification exam, they apply for paid part-time jobs at a Texas Health hospital.

While working part time and attending school, the health system covers tuition, fees, books and supply expenses the students incur, through its tuition reimbursement program.

“It’s a design pathway with the full support of Texas Health that enables them to earn a career in nursing,” Kiley said. “One of the reasons Texas Health Resources invests in this program ... is we know these people in this Prodigy Program go on to be exceptional nurses.”

Approximately 100 people are currently involved in the Youth Prodigy Program by either taking prerequisite courses to become a nurse, are in nursing school or have received their license and are working as a nurse for Texas Health.

For more information on the Youth Prodigy Program and to obtain an application, visit

In our view, the program’s proactive approach has a lot to recommend it.

It’s a good example of what can be accomplished if we are willing to invest in our young people and help them pursue their goals.