From Coal Miner to Registered Nurse


As a coal miner, Mikey Blair worked 10-hour shifts deep in the mines, always on the alert for falling rocks or other dangers.  While his job as a coal miner seems far removed from his new career as a registered nurse (RN) at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC), Mikey feels that the two jobs have an important common denominator.  “So many things can go wrong in the coal mines that you have to pay attention to every single thing that you’re doing,” said Mikey. “In nursing, it’s the same way.  You could kill somebody by giving them the wrong injection, or too much of an injection, or in the wrong place.”

After losing his job as a coal miner, Mikey feels lucky to have been given the opportunity to start over and find a new career.  He earned his nursing degree at the $$Pikeville Campus with funding through the Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) program, which provides training to out-of-work coal miners and their spouses.  The tuition assistance that he received through the HOME program was supplemented by the American National University Workforce Development Grant, an exclusive grant which matches funding from agencies.

In his new career, working on the orthopedics and neurology wing of the Pikeville Medical Center, Mikey has found more than just a way to replace his income, he’s found a passion for caring for others.  “I love taking care of patients, but not just patients, their families, too,” he said.  “Their families are really, really important to them, therefore they’re important to me.”

Mikey is already thinking about the next step in his career, and he’s enrolled in a BSN program to help ensure that he has the skills that he needs to advance.  He hopes to be accepted into a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) program within five to ten years. 

Mikey encourages others in his community who have lost their jobs to go back to school. “It’s hard to stay in this area, because the coal mining jobs are going away, but so are other jobs,” Mikey said. “You don’t have a fighting chance without an education.”

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