Grayson College was officially awarded a $2 million grant from the Texas Workforce Commission on Tuesday, for its efforts to further the education of the region’s current and future health care professionals.

The Skills Development Fund Grant Award will be distributed to the college over the next two years and will help employees and students under the Healthcare Consortium enroll in roughly 60 different classes which yield a variety of professional certifications. The consortium is a partnership between Grayson College, Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center, Texoma Medical Center, Beacon Hill and Carrus Specialty Hospitals. The grant will also fund the purchase of medical training equipment.

“This program is certainly a successful investment,” Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said. “It has had support for over 20 years because it makes sense. It listens to our employers, allows them to work in partnership with our community colleges, with our local boards and other leaders to make sure that we understand how to best invest in you — the workers, the employees that power these organizations to excellence.”

In a presentation attended by the area’s economic development leaders, education officials and health care students, Alcantar said he and the TWC awarded the grant to Grayson College because the state agency saw health care as a rapidly-growing industry and viewed the consortium partnerships as ones that would benefit workers and patients and greatly improve both medical care and the region’s economy.

Grayson College President Jeremy McMillen said the grant award was a historic one for the school, as it was the largest Grayson had ever received from the Texas Workforce Commission. The college’s leader then quantified the impact the grant is expected to have.

“The grant awards $2,086,825,” McMillen said. “We are going to train, unduplicated, 1,242 individuals. We are going to serve over 700 trainees listed in high-demand occupations by Workforce Solutions Texoma in the roles of registered nurse, clinical lab technician, respiratory therapy technician and customer service representatives.”

TMC’s Director of Education Candy Vansant said the grant award could not have come at a better time because the hospital’s nurses have voiced an interest in furthering their education and taking on additional responsibilities.

“Our nurses are coming out of the woodwork right now, saying, ‘I want my certification,’” Vansant said. “‘I want to obtain that level of achievement so that I can give better patient care. I need this course, so what are you going to do about it?’”

WNJ administrator Kitty Richardson said the grant will allow her hospital’s staff to enroll in courses that not only lead to better patient and bedside care, but to a better workplace in general.

“Some of those certifications are for emergency nurses, diabetic education nurses, occupational health, critical care, stroke, trauma, acute care and even security officers. This will also bring, to some our people, leadership classes and disaster management.

With the check officially signed and the investment in play, McMillen said the future of Grayson College’s students and the region’s health care providers looked brighter than before. But he challenged the health care students in attendance to also make their own investment.

“Education is so vital for you and your future,” McMillen said. “Don’t forget that you have to do your part as students and invest in your own self to learn the skills that you need to thrive in this economy.”