Patricia Fuller-Murray, outside her new office in Shapiro

Patricia Fuller-Murray, outside her new office in Shapiro

Over the years, Patricia Fuller-Murray, a certified unit coordinator in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, had dreamed of going back to school. So in 2007, when she learned about Workforce Development’s (WFD) School at Work program, an on-site program that prepares employees for college, she eagerly enrolled.

Fuller-Murray is now a college graduate, having earned her bachelor’s of science in health care management with cum laude honors from Fisher College in 2013. She also recently received a promotion at work and is now a ventricular assist device (VAD) equipment coordinator. In this role, she supports patients in the VAD program by efficiently managing the procurement and tracking of their equipment and by having a deep knowledge of the device. She works closely with VAD program nurses, nurse practitioners, Biomedical Engineering and Watkins Clinic staff and cardiovascular service line leadership.

“Workforce Development is where I got my courage,” Fuller-Murray said. “Once you realize you can accomplish your goals, anything is possible. I finally did something I have wanted to do for many years.”

Starting this spring, WFD and Partners HealthCare are helping others accomplish their educational and professional goals with a new partnership with College for America—an accredited, nonprofit online degree program that is designed for working adults with busy lives. The partnership allows BWH and other Partners hospital employees to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University. The program includes online projects in place of traditional lectures and courses, and can be done at employees’ own pace.

Additionally, the program is low-cost, at $500 to $2,500 per year for eligible employees after tuition reimbursement. Financial assistance is also available.

Partners works with managers and the college to ensure that the skills and competencies gained are relevant to employees’ daily work as vital health care contributors. More than 40 employees participated in a one-year pilot of the program, and many expressed how valuable and usable the skills gained have been.

The next College for America session begins April 1. To learn more or apply, visit