I remember my fascination when Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs” premiered on basic cable way back in 2003.

Reality TV was a fledgling concept at the time, but Rowe jumped all in. You remember the concept: The humble host Rowe visited dirty and dangerous job sites, interviewing workers and inevitably trying their tasks out as an apprentice of sorts. There were plenty of industrial opportunities featuring sludge and grease; the requisite animal and farming jobs; and, of course, lots of gag-worthy waste handling.

But in more than 150 episodes, I don’t recall Rowe ever stepping foot in a human healthcare setting. Maybe he veered away from calling healthcare jobs dirty as a sign of respect. But anyone who’s donned a nurse’s cap — or worked in nursing home food services or laundry, for that matter — knows things can get messy real quick when helping humans at their most vulnerable.

Rowe, who has become an icon for the working class since his show’s end in the mid-2010s, is rectifying that now.

On an episode of his podcast last week, Rowe announced his mikeroweWORKS Foundation was broadening its scholarship program to support students pursuing careers as licensed practical nurses.

The foundation offers its Work Ethic scholarships to students in specified “skilled” programs, mostly involving agriculture, machinery, technology and transportation. The work doesn’t have to be dirty, just in-demand and primarily hands-on. Until now, the only medical related program was for EMTs.

The foundation describes its scholarship effort as trying to build a “a trained workforce standing by or willing to fill the positions that actually exist.”

And LPNs are certainly needed, at least in some healthcare settings. A Health Resources and Services Administration study predicted that the US would be short the equivalent of 150,000 full-time LPNs by 2030.

Rowe is offering support for those willing to put in the work toward an LPN degree (applications accepted Feb. 28-April 17). Scholarships across all categories could total $1 million.

The reality his organization might not be aware of — nor many of today’s would-be nursing students — is that coming federal regulations could dry up much of the demand for LPNs. These nurses, the bedrock of American nursing homes’ clinical staff, may soon not count toward patient care metrics, forcing some providers to look for nurses with more advanced training.

I’m not suggesting that Rowe shouldn’t extend his program to entice more nurses into these rewarding roles. But more Americans need to be aware of the threats a single regulation brings to the nursing education and job placement pipelines.

LPNs may soon find themselves boxed out of quality, well-paying jobs in the very settings that have most often hired them in the past. And in this very real episode, it’s federal regulators threatening to do those nurses dirty.

Let’s hope the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cleans up its own mess when issuing the final nursing home staffing rule it has promised later this year.

Kimberly Marselas is senior editor of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.