UW Health announces nurse apprenticeship, looks to address ongoing shortage
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - In an effort to address the ongoing nursing workforce shortage, UW Health announced Thursday that it is launching one of the nation’s first registered nurse apprenticeships.
The health system says the four-year program is designed to encourage a diverse group of health care personnel to pursue an associate degree in nursing. The degree will make those individuals eligible to take the board examination and become a registered nurse.
According to UW Health, over 100,000 nurses left the workforce following the COVID-19 pandemic. CEO of UW Health Alan Kaplan says addressing the workforce shortage in a place like Madison where unemployment is low, is a challenge.
“That’s why we’re creating a program that offers a pathway for people to pursue a career they’ll love. And we’re creating an environment that supports them at the earliest stage of their career so they can be successful,” Kaplan said.
UW Health Chief Nurse Executive Rudy Jackson said trying to keep up with patient demand the last couple of years has been tough.
“We overcome those challenges every single day. We saw this when our staffing shortage became pretty dire during the pandemic. We had incentives for picking up extra shifts, we even employed external travelers like organizations all over the country were doing and yet we still struggled,” Jackson said.
The program will provide apprentices tuition, books, supplies, as well as full-time salaries and benefits, according to UW Health.
“By taking this approach to address the workforce shortage, we’re also supporting our patients,” Kaplan said. “Demand for care has never been higher, which can make timely access to care a challenge. So, we’re working to ensure we can meet demand with the best of care teams.”
Kaplan stood alongside Jackson, Lieutenant Governor Sara Rodriguez, secretary-designee of the Wis. Dept. of Workforce Development and Madison College President Jack E. Daniels Thursday to officially announce the program.
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