Internships, partnerships, schools help fill health-care worker gap | Local News

Some solutions to the health-care worker shortage are coming from all fronts.

Employers have boosted their recruitment efforts, formed partnerships with colleges and have expanded imternships, opening the doors for more students to learn the profession.

Aurora Health Center has expanded its recruitment efforts. It now has more interns performing jobs in various departments in its hospital system. Officials say the interns are able to perform work tasks almost right away because of upgraded equipment and techniques on the college campuses.

“We have about 250 students per year that do their clinical rotations,” said Matt Braun, an Aurora spokesman. “With additional departments and clinics, it’s likely another 50 to 100 students per year from local colleges and universities receive training at Aurora Health Care facilities in Kenosha, Racine and northern Illinois.”

Many students who complete their clinicals are offered jobs upon graduation, often in the areas where they obtained their clinical experience.

Caitlin Busse was hired right after doing her clinical in the radiology department.

While she could have selected another employer, she chose to work at Aurora’s Kenosha hospital because she liked the friendly work environment.

“It was very welcoming,” she said.

After only two weeks on the job, she was mentoring a student, Brooke Cole, who was doing a clinical in her department.

After extensive experience working with patients, Cole has made an impression, and she is considering an offer from Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

“There are a lot of opportunities out there,” she said.

Partnering with schools

In addition to offering internships, Aurora has formed a partnership with the Kenosha Unified School District as well as Gateway Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside to introduce students to the health care field.

Another large employer, Unitedhealthcare, has taken it another step further. The UnitedHealthcare Foundation has created a $2.3 million matching grant program with Milwaukee Area Technical College to double the size of its registered nursing program over the next three years.

School officials expect to double enrollment by this fall, hire 16 new nursing program instructors, support the recruitment of low-income students and assist with placement services once students graduate.

Colleges step up

Some colleges have also expanded their curricula to accommodate more students looking to health-care professions.

Carthage College recently established a four-year nursing program, a first for the school. Frank Hicks, director of the nursing department, said the curriculum would fill a critical need for more nurses.

Gateway has expanded its nursing program to include simulation laboratories and classroom space.

“We’re doing what we can to prepare people for the workforce,” said Gateway’s Anne Wilkinson, interim dean of nursing. “We have a very robust student support system.”

Earlier this month, Herzing University hosted a symposium and announced that it was expanding its nursing program by enhancing simulation labs and by offering evening nursing classes to accommodate more students.

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