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UK HealthCare nursing

Interested in a nursing career at UK HealthCare? Listen to this.

Through patient care, education and research, nurses at UK HealthCare are instrumental in providing the world-class care available throughout our hospitals and clinics.

In fact, UK HealthCare is part of an elite group of hospitals that has achieved Magnet status – the gold standard for nursing excellence.

If you’re interested in the team of more than 4,000 nursing professionals at UK HealthCare, register now for our free nursing job and recruitment fair on Feb. 22.

And in the meantime, be sure to listen to our podcast with Graig Casada, nurse recruitment manager at UK HealthCare. He tells us more about the qualities UK HealthCare looks for in its nurses, what you can expect during the job fair and why our nurses play such a vital role in the well-being of patients and their families.

Check out it below!


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UK College of Nursing

UK College of Nursing celebrates 30th anniversary of prestigious doctoral program

Faculty, students and alumni gathered at UK’s Boone Center on Thursday, Feb. 8 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the college’s PhD program.

The program, ranked among the top eight nursing doctoral programs in the country by the U.S. National Research Council, has produced more than 130 graduates since 1992.

“The PhD program in the College of Nursing has attracted stellar students from all over the world,” said Debra Moser, director of the program. “These students have gone on to build highly successful and productive programs of research, to mentor the next generation of nurse scientists, and to improve the health and well-being of patients, families and communities. They are making an impact in Kentucky and across the United States and the world. We’re extraordinarily proud of them and the PhD program that launched them.”

A day of education and celebration

The featured speaker was Cynda H. Rushton, a professor of clinical ethics in the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics and the School of Nursing. As part of the Nursing Leadership Lecture Series, she gave at a talk entitled “Cultivating Moral Resilience to Address Complexity in Health Care” to an audience of doctors, nurses, students and the public in the Karpf Auditorium in UK Chandler Hospital. She was also the guest speaker at the formal celebration later that evening.

Other speakers included Janie Heath, dean of the College of Nursing and Terry Lennie, associate dean, who spoke on the significance of a PhD degree in nursing. Dean Emeriti Carolyn Williams  presented an oral history of the nursing PhD program.

Earlier in the day, the college hosted the Office of Nursing Research Open House to celebrate the recently renovated space to emphasize the importance of nursing research to the UK HealthCare community. Dr. Mark Newman, executive vice president for health affairs, UK Provost David Blackwell and UK HealthCare Chief Nurse Executive Colleen Swartz each gave remarks.

Why students choose the College of Nursing

Jessica Harman is her second year in the PhD program after earning her BSN at UK. Through the opportunities afforded to her as an undergraduate, she got a position in UK’s cardiovascular ICU, where she still works as an on-call nurse while she completes her studies.

“I choose UK for my PhD because of the fantastic opportunities and mentorship that the program has,” said Harman. “The RICH (Research and Interventions for Cardiovascular Health) research group is full of incredibly established, respected researchers who expertise in cardiovascular nursing research has allowed me numerous opportunities and allowed me to progress through the program quickly and efficiently.”

Ifeanyi Madujibeya is in his first year in the program. He received his BSN from Berea College. He chose UK for because of the resources available to pursue his research in the use of mobile health technology to improve self-care in patients with heart failure.

“The program has all the resources to support my progress in my area of research and to help me develop to a well-rounded nursing researcher,” said Madujibeya. “Especially, the opportunities to be mentored by world-renowned faculty members and to collaborate in cutting-edge interdisciplinary research at UK are too good to overlook.”

A history of success

The PhD program was first approved in 1985 under then-Dean Carolyn Williams, who stressed the importance of research and publications. The first students were accepted in 1987, and in 1992, the first class of doctorate students graduated.

In 2006, the PhD program launched a curriculum that built on the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to prepare nurses for research at the doctoral level.

Doctoral students have the opportunity to participate in faculty members’ research programs, such as psychosocial and biobehavioral interventions for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases, management of critically ill patients, promoting self-management of chronic illnesses, domestic and workplace violence, tobacco policy and smoking cessation, occupational health and safety, health disparities, health risks in pregnant women, pediatric asthma, and more. Currently, 46 students are enrolled in the program.


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  • Nurses at UK HealthCare provide leading-edge patient care and play a vital role in enhancing each patient’s healing process.
  • Interested in working at UK? We’re hosting a Nursing Job Fair on Feb. 22 from 4-8 p.m.

Nursing professor receives prestigious Fulbright award

UK College of Nursing Associate Professor Ana Maria Linares, DNS, RN, IBCLC, received a teaching and research award from the Fulbright Scholars Program for her work in the study of iron-deficiency anemia in children in Peru.

Linares is the second faculty member from the College of Nursing to be named a Fulbright Scholar and the first to travel to another country to implement her program of research.

Research focus

Studies have shown Peruvian children have one of the highest rates of iron-deficiency anemia in the world. Linares will evaluate a cohort of Peruvian children ages 3 months to 1 year to measure biological factors that are associated with decreased iron levels such as the type of feeding, fecal occult blood, lead concentration and intestinal parasites. Linares will also collect data about feeding history and feeding practice of the children.

While in Peru, Linares will work with faculty and graduate students at the National University of San Luis Gonzaga to determine the potential causes of iron deficiency in infants and children and also visit other institutions to share research methodologies to improve learning experiences.

She will lead a number of seminars throughout Peru and will also be the keynote speaker for a continuing education course offered by the Peruvian Scientific Society of Pediatric Nursing.

Track record of excellence

Linares joined the faculty at the UK College of Nursing in 2009 as an assistant professor, teaching obstetric nursing. She received a degree in midwifery from the University of Chile and a Doctor of Nursing Science degree from the University of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey, Mexico.

Prior to her position at UK, she was an associate professor at the University of Tarapaca in Chile, where she served as dean of the College of Midwifery and a professor of obstetrics and neonatology.

She also served as a faculty associate in UK’s Center for Research on Violence Against Women. Linares has a program of research on health disparities with an emphasis on the promotion of breastfeeding. She is conducting several studies on infant feeding in Kentucky including a randomized controlled trial among Hispanics and their families to support breastfeeding and late introduction of solid food to children younger than 6 months. Some of these components will be included in her work in Peru.

The Fulbright Program awards over 500 teaching and research awards in more than 125 countries, and is designed to expand and strengthen relationships between the people of the United States and citizens of other nations and to promote international understanding and cooperation.


Next steps:

  • Nurses at UK HealthCare provide leading-edge patient care and play a vital role in enhancing each patient’s healing process.
  • Interested in working at UK? We’re hosting a Nursing Job Fair on Feb. 22 from 4-8 p.m.

Nursing student finds calling on UK Shoulder to Shoulder Global trip

UK nursing student Mia Jackson discovered her passion for working with children during her experience abroad with the Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) health brigade. Twenty-eight additional students, 21 faculty members or healthcare professionals, and six members of the UK/Lexington community joined Jackson in Ecuador to share this transformational experience.

STSG is a UK Global Health Initiative organization that integrates academic and community partners to improve the health and well-being of impoverished and underserved communities while offering the opportunity to students to work in a multicultural and interdisciplinary setting.

Leaving her comfort zone

During the brigade, Jackson said she was able to learn and observe the other types of treatment that patients received from her peers.

“I got the experience to follow a patient through each station and it was wonderful getting to see what each team does and how they give care,” Jackson said. “From this experience, I realized that it’s OK to step outside of your box and help other specialties when you may not feel comfortable.”

While in Ecuador, Jackson was able to combine nursing and her skills speaking Spanish to connect with patients at the local clinic, including the young ones.

“I didn’t know what type of specialty nurse I wanted to be, but when I went to Ecuador I connected with a lot of children,” Jackson said. “Being with them on the brigade helped me realize that kids are my specialty.”

Quality care in any setting

Jackson also said she learned about the importance of equal opportunity care regardless of the environment or conditions in which she worked.

“From working with those patients at the clinic, I realized it’s not about the type of care, but the quality of care,” Jackson said. “Regardless of the tools we had, we still had to give the same quality care to the patients.”

During the brigade, Jackson was part of a small team that did a home visit for an elderly man who was wheelchair bound. He thought that he would never be able to walk again, but during the visit, Jackson and the physical therapy team realized that if given the proper care, the man could still walk.

“It was very interesting to realize how the patient was able to get around in his house and move from the wheelchair to his bed,” Jackson said. “It was very hard for him to not have his original strength, but he was working so hard the entire time to get his strength back.”

Jackson said that his family was eager to learn different methods from the physical therapy team members so that they could help him regain his strength.

Interacting with different cultures

The nursing student also had the opportunity to work with the Tsáchila community, an indigenous tribe of Santo Domingo. The Tsáchila community was primarily located in the jungle, so Jackson and the rest of the brigade team had limited resources to set up clinical supplies.

“At one point, we were able to make tables out of wood boards,” Jackson said. “This experience really showed me how to make something out of nothing when you are faced with difficult challenges that test your skills.”

Reflecting on her education abroad experience, Jackson said, “I believe it’s key to study abroad in college if you want to experience a different culture. To me, experiencing different cultures is key to being able to do any type of professional work, because everyone in the world is different.”

Help transform the lives of students like Mia Jackson by supporting STSG during the 2017 GoodGiving Challenge. Donations collected during the fundraiser, which runs Nov. 28 through Dec. 31, provide health and education to an impoverished community while giving Kentucky students a unique, transformative educational experience. Your gift helps to keep the experience affordable to students while providing quality healthcare to the inhabitants of Santo Domingo, Ecuador.


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UK study finds smoke-free laws lead to reduced rates of lung cancer

A recent study by UK’s BREATHE (Bridging Research Efforts and Advocacy Toward Healthy Environments) shows that fewer new cases of lung cancer were found in communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws.

Strong smoke-free laws are known to improve public health by lowering rates of heart attack, stroke, asthma and emphysema. This study, led by Ellen Hahn, PhD, director of BREATHE and professor in the UK College of Nursing, is the first to show that new cases of lung cancer are lower when communities enact strong smoke-free laws.

The results of the study were published in Cancer, an American Cancer Society journal dedicated to providing clinicians with information on diagnosis, treatment and prevention.

Benefits of stronger smoke-free laws

Kentucky has more cases of lung cancer than any other state, and its mortality rate is 50 percent higher than the national average. Hahn and her team studied whether new cases of lung cancer in Kentucky were lower, higher or stable in communities with smoke-free laws.

“Kentucky has one of the highest adult cigarette smoking rates and the highest rate of new lung cancer cases in the nation,” Hahn said. “Only one-third of Kentuckians are protected by strong smoke-free workplace laws.”

Though other environmental factors play a part in the development of lung cancer, smoking and secondhand smoke exposure are the root cause of the disease.

“This new study shows that having strong smoke-free workplace laws in place to prevent exposure to secondhand smoke is one more way we can help protect our citizens from this devastating disease,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center.

Creating more smoke-free workplaces

Using data compiled from the Kentucky Cancer Registry, the Cancer Research Informatics Shared Resource Facility and Markey, researchers looked at 20 years of new lung cancer diagnoses among Kentuckians age 50 and over in communities with strong, moderate and weak smoke-free laws.

Lung cancer incidence was 8 percent lower in communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws compared to communities without smoke-free laws. Researchers did not find differences in lung cancer rates between communities with moderate or weak smoke-free laws and those without any smoke-free laws.

These findings could be used to prompt legislation to create more communities with strong smoke-free workplace laws in Kentucky.

“Local government can play a critical role in preventing lung cancer,” said Hahn. “Elected officials can ensure that all workers and the public are protected from secondhand smoke by passing strong smoke-free laws with few or no exceptions.”

BREATHE is a multi-disciplinary research, outreach, and practice collaborative of the UK College of Nursing. Its mission is to promote lung health and healthy environments to achieve health equity through research, community outreach and empowerment, advocacy and policy development and access to health services.

For more information about BREATHE, visit www.breathe.uky.eduClick here to see the map and listings of smoke-free ordinances in Kentucky.


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UK nursing leaders and alumnae honored for excellence

Current and retired faculty members and distinguished alumnae in the UK College of Nursing have been honored by a number of organizations for their work in the fields of teaching and health care.

Carolyn Williams, dean emeritus of the UK College of Nursing and former president of the American Academy of Nursing, was one of five nurse leaders to receive the academy’s designation of Living Legend, the organization’s highest honor, at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 5.

The Academy recognizes a small number of fellows as Living Legends each year. To be eligible, the Living Legend must have been an academy fellow for at least 15 years and have demonstrated extraordinary, sustained contributions to nursing and healthcare.

Williams was honored for her work in public health epidemiology and nursing education. Her groundbreaking work advocates for community health through population-focused research and care. She was actively involved in efforts that led to the creation of the National Institute for Nursing Research. As dean of the UK College of Nursing, she launched the nation’s first doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program. As president of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, she pressed for development of the DNP nationally.

Janie Heath, current dean of the UK College of Nursing, was recognized as a distinguished alumna by her alma mater, the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing on Oct. 27. The award was established by the college and the Alumni Board of Directors to recognize graduates who demonstrate “outstanding leadership related to the field of nursing or healthcare” and who have made “significant clinical, academic, research or other contributions to nursing or health care on a local, state, national or international level.”

In addition, the UK College of Nursing honored five new inductees in its Hall of Fame on Nov. 10 at 21C Hotel in Lexington. The honorees are:

  • Karen S. Hill ’87, chief operating officer/chief nursing officer for Baptist Health in Lexington.
  • Sheila H. Ridner ’78, director at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing.
  • Marcia K. Stanhope ’67, former director of Good Samaritan.
  • Colleen H. Swartz ’87 DNP ’11, chief nurse executive/chief administrative officer at UK HealthCare.
  • Gail A. Wolf ’78, former chief nursing officer, University of Pittsburgh Health Care System.

Established in 2006, the College of Nursing Hall of Fame identifies distinguished graduates and their extraordinary contributions to the nursing profession.

“Drs. Hill, Ridner, Stanhope, Swartz and Wolf are pioneers who truly embody the Wildcat spirit – a spirit of curiosity and determination,” said Heath. “One that impacts nursing practice through teaching with excellence, advancing scholarly practice, generating nursing science and embracing differences.”


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UK HealthCare takes proactive approach to nurse recruitment

Kentucky, like most states nationwide, is experiencing a shortage of qualified nurses. For UK HealthCare, which sees some of the sickest and most severely injured patients in the Commonwealth, this presents a particular problem. But UK HealthCare is working to combat the shortage by offering a wide variety of recruitment incentives and professional development opportunities.

A shortage of registered nurses, whether they are in hospital or clinic setting, is a multifaceted dilemma. The aging “baby boomer” population places a strain on healthcare resources, and the expansion of the Affordable Care Act means that more people are seeking treatment. The high number of Kentuckians with diabetes, cancer, heart disease and strokes also increases the demand for trained nurses.

“We have some serious health issues in our state,” said Colleen Swartz, chief nurse executive and chief administrative officer of UK HealthCare. “It’s no longer, ‘I have a fractured hip,’ it’s ‘I have a fractured hip and I’m a diabetic and I have congestive heart failure. That has created care that is very complex.”

Educational incentives

To address both the shortage and the complex health issues with which nurses must contend, UK HealthCare and the College of Nursing have instituted education incentives designed to attract new nurses and provide current UK nurses with opportunities for professional development. These incentives include tuition assistance, loan-repayment programs and continuing education programs.

One such program is Nursing Professional Advancement, which rewards nurses with pay differentials added to their base pay for participating in development opportunities. The nurse residency program for new graduate nurses is a one-year educational and support program that provides regular contact with experts and mentors to help with the transition from student to professional.

“We try to provide students with the best learning environment we possibly can,” said Swartz.

The UK College of Nursing awards over 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees each year. The PhD program is ranked among the top eight programs in the U.S. by the National Research Council, and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) was the first of its kind the U.S. Online continuing education programs are available, as well as a number of graduate certificates geared toward preparing advanced practice registered nurses for national certification eligibility and licensure in a new or additional specialty area.

Expanding skills

“The registered nurse of today is not the registered nurse of a decade ago,” said Swartz. “There is an increase in demand on their performances and their understanding of complexities.”

While other healthcare centers offer monetary incentives, such as sign-on bonuses for new hires, UK focuses on recruiting nurses looking to expand their skill set or to advance their careers.

The hospital’s reputation is a factor as well. UK HealthCare was named the best hospital in Kentucky by the U.S. News & World Report, and has achieved top 50 rankings in cancer treatment, neurology, geriatrics, and diabetes and endocrinology.

“[Another benefit] is the culture of the environment such as hospitals with magnet status that treat employees with respect,” said Janie Heath, dean of the College of Nursing. “We recognize and promote their outstanding efforts to meet the mission of care delivery excellence.”


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colleen swartz hall of fame

UK HealthCare’s Dr. Colleen Swartz inducted into College of Nursing Hall of Fame

Dr. Colleen Swartz

Dr. Colleen Swartz

Congratulations to Dr. Colleen Swartz, the chief nurse executive and chief administrative officer at UK HealthCare, for her recent induction into the UK College of Nursing Hall of Fame!

Dr. Swartz earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1987 and her doctoral degree in nursing practice in 2011 from the UK College of Nursing. Established in 2006, the UK College of Nursing Hall of Fame identifies distinguished graduates and their extraordinary contributions to the nursing profession.

Dr. Swartz became chief nurse executive for UK HealthCare in December 2008 and was appointed chief administrative officer in February 2017. Dr. Swartz oversees UK HealthCare’s more than 4,000 nursing service employees, which includes more than 2,000 full-time registered nurses. With the help of Dr. Swartz’ leadership and vision, our nurses play a vital role in enhancing our patients’ healing process and are instrumental in providing the world-class care available at UK HealthCare.

Among her many accomplishments at UK HealthCare, Dr. Swartz helped us earn Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) in February 2016. Magnet status is the gold standard for nursing excellence, and out of nearly 6,000 healthcare organizations in the United States, fewer than 7 percent have achieved Magnet designation.

Her prior experience includes serving as chief nursing officer at a regional community hospital, director of emergency and trauma services, flight nursing and as director of the Capacity Command Center for UK HealthCare.

Congratulations on this awesome recognition, Dr. Swartz!


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Get Fit and Quit

UK partnership helps women in recovery replace cigarettes with sweat

While managing her sobriety, returning to the workforce and enduring a grueling legal process to reunite with her children, Missy couldn’t imagine a day without cigarettes.

After finishing a six-year prison sentence in January, she was determined to get her life back in order. In the spring, she completed a substance abuse rehabilitation program at the Chrysalis House, a residential recovery center for women in Lexington. She got a job and started working through the legal process necessary to regain custody of her children. Smoking – a habit she picked up after prison – helped her cope with her emotions and the stress of court dates and legal battles.

“Quitting wasn’t a top priority because I was so stressed out with stuff going on with my kids,” Missy said. “I would push it to the back of my mind, like, ‘I am not even going to think about quitting smoking, this is calming me down.’”

Then she learned she was pregnant, and she set a quit date.

“It kind of seemed like it was impossible because there is so much going on,” she said. “But me finding out I was pregnant –that pushed me over the edge.”

During her stay at the Chrysalis House earlier this year, Missy signed up for the Get Fit and Quit Program (GFAQ), a community-based research partnership organized by health advocates at the UK College of Nursing, the Chrysalis House and the YMCA of Central Kentucky.

The program, which started in March, includes group tobacco treatment and physical activity sessions. About 14 Chrysalis House clients have enrolled and consistently participated. Through the program, women in recovery at the Chrysalis House are eligible to receive a free family YMCA membership, a free fitness-tracking device and other family health benefits.

Exposing women to physical activity

Enrolled Chrysalis House clients participate in 10 hour-and-a-half Get Fit and Quit sessions with 45 minutes of each session dedicated to group tobacco cessation content followed by 45 minutes of physical activity at the Northside YMCA. UK nurse interventionists Janine Barnett and Tisha Ducas facilitate the sessions.

The program exposes women and families to a range of physical activity, from cardiovascular group workouts like Zumba, to cycling, to yoga, to weight lifting as well as a day to choose a fitness activity on their own. Barnett said many women are learning to replace tobacco use with healthier activities for managing stress.

“The majority of our session content focuses on identifying smoking triggers and stress and discovering new ways to manage them,” Barnett said. “We hope that through exercise, the women will feel the benefits of endorphin release, they will begin to feel physically and mentally better, and then they will begin to naturally incorporate this healthy behavior into their everyday routine.”

Fighting back against stress

Stress is a well-known predictor of smoking. Beginning in 2015, Amanda Fallin-Bennett, a tobacco control researcher in the UK College of Nursing and a primary investigator on the GFAQ program, partnered with the Chrysalis House to conduct pilot research on the barriers to tobacco treatment and cessation specifically for women in addiction rehabilitation programs.

Based on results of individual interviews and focus groups with Chrysalis House residents and staff, GFAQ was designed for a group of women reporting high levels of stress. The program takes an integrative approach that includes a supportive peer network, organized group exercise classes, and access to tobacco treatment specialists and counseling.

The researchers then formed partnerships with staff at the Chrysalis House, as well as officials from the YMCA of Central Kentucky and the Kentucky Quit Line, which provides free nicotine replacement for women enrolled in GFAQ.

Tonya Jernigan, clinical director of the Chrysalis House, said the collaboration complements her organization’s holistic approach to recovery that addresses the physical, spiritual and mental state of addiction. The clients are provided with multiple tools and resources to succeed on their path to health and substance-free living. They also model healthy behaviors by seeing other families in the community enjoying the benefits of a YMCA membership.

“It’s planting a seed,” Jernigan said. “Part of that recovery process is being able to build a natural support system and being able to see what healthy families look like.”

Swapping smoking for sweat

Susan Sanders, a clinical nurse at the Chrysalis House, said the program provides a safe, non-judgmental and family-friendly outlet for clients to participate in physical activity. Importantly, Chrysalis House clients participating in the program are engaged in the community, which helps to normalize exercise and decrease access barriers to healthy activities.

“Just to feel like there’s folks at UK and folks at the Y who are willing to reach out to them — who care about them enough to put this program together— that’s inspiring to them as individuals,” Sanders said.

The clients, most importantly, are learning to swap out smoking for physical activity as a response to stress. In addition, their families are getting plugged into their local community and experiencing the joy of exercise.

“And I am in the best shape of my life thanks to this program,” said one participant, whose identity is protected. “I have been getting compliments almost daily, and the YMCA has been my and the kids’ second home. I feel this program will change lives and its changed mine for the better.”

Missy admits she’s never been enthusiastic about working out in the past, but she’s learned to appreciate exercise and enjoys swimming. She remains committed to the program because she needs encouragement and accountability to make her quit goal. When she missed her quit date about a month ago, participating in the class and receiving encouragement from the instructors motivated her to try again.

“I really started enjoying the program when I had a breakdown when I didn’t make my quit date,” she said. “Janine and the nurses have been very supportive and caring, and they try to understand. They are swift in their thinking – they know what to say.”

*Missy’s name was changed to ensure client confidentiality.


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Nurses Week

We’re celebrating our awesome nurses during Nurses Week!

It’s Nurses Week and we’re celebrating all the excellent nurses at UK HealthCare who care for our patients every day.

UK HealthCare has more than 4,000 nursing service employees, including more than 2,000 full-time registered nurses. They are the best at what they do and play a vital role in enhancing our patients’ healing process. Through patient care, education and research, our nurses are instrumental in providing the world-class care available at UK HealthCare.

In fact, UK HealthCare is part of an elite group of hospitals that has achieved Magnet status – the gold standard for nursing excellence. Out of nearly 6,000 healthcare organizations in the United States, fewer than 7 percent have achieved Magnet designation.

Kudos to our nurses for being so awesome!

Interested in working at UK HealthCare?

Are you interested in working in nursing at UK HealthCare? We’re hiring! Find out more during an open house this Thursday, May 11 from 1-3 p.m. in Room H-178 of UK Chandler Hospital. Recruiters will be available to answer questions about employment opportunities.

Parking is available in the UK HealthCare parking garage at 110 Transcript Ave., directly across South Limestone from Chandler Hospital. Take the free shuttle from Level A of the garage to Stop 2. After entering Pavilion H, take hallway on your immediate right to Room H-178. Bring your parking ticket with you and we will validate it for you so that parking is free.


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