UWEC offers 3 job positions, 12 fellowships through as part of new nursing incentive program

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - A nursing shortage battle is being fought by four state universities through an incentive program.

UW Eau Claire said it's seen a big response to the new program.

It hired three instructors using a loan forgiveness program offered through the state, according to former dean and nurses for Wisconsin Project Coordinator Dr. Elaine Wendt.

She said 12 students pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree will have a chance at a $43,000 fellowship, if they agree to teach in the UW System for three years.

UWEC nursing student Billie Trainor said going back to school after graduation isn't in her plans.

“Most people when they graduate want to put their skills to use right away and you can't do that as much in teaching than you could being a nurse,” Trainor said.

Wendt said a growing number of instructors reaching retirement is keeping schools from admitting the number of students they want.

“One of the issues is the UW System schools of nursing and schools of nursing all over are turning away many many very highly qualified applicants. Because we are experiencing a severe shortage of prepared faculty,” she said.

She said convincing nurses to go back to school to become a teacher isn't easy.

“It's really an intensive program they will be doing. And nurses do go into nursing because they love working with patients. And like giving patient care. It's learning that as you're working with students, you benefit patients, students, and the profession, so it's really looking at your career through a different lens,” Wendt said.

She said she is hoping new financial incentives will bring more people into teaching.

It offers $3.2 million divided up for people agreeing to teach in the UW System. Up to $50,000 is available for people with doctorates through loan forgiveness and up to $43,000 is there for anyone pursuing a Ph.D. or doctor of nursing practice degree.

“We believe it can make a significant difference in the economy of the state and in the health of the state, and those are two really big issues that the state is confronting right now,” Wendt said.

Wendt said the current average age of nursing instructors is 58 and the shortage of registered nurses is expected to grow to nearly 20,000 by 2035.

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