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DHS launches campaign to recruit health care workers in WI

DHS launches campaign to recruit health care workers
DHS launches campaign to recruit health care workers(UW HEALTH)
Published: Nov. 30, 2020 at 6:59 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A health care worker shortage, only made more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, has prompted the state to start a new campaign encouraging Wisconsinites to consider a future in the health care field.

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services announced its newly launched ‘WisHealth Careers’ last week.

“Our ability to fight COVID-19 depends on having a robust workforce caring for our most vulnerable residents,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “The surge in cases has put a strain on every community in the state, and we need motivated Wisconsinites to step up and fill in where they are needed most.”

“For the country as a whole, we are looking at some serious shortages,” said Matt Rentmeester with Bellin College.

Rentmeester said the shortage will likely get worse.

“I would imagine that this pandemic is going to accelerate certain retirements-- from burnout people that have been maybe thinking about retiring in health care. After this, they’re going to be like, ‘yeah I definitely will get through this pandemic and then we may go’,” Rentmeester.

It may be a big challenge, but Rentmeester said students at Bellin College are willing to take it on, even finding a way to graduate students early to help with shortages in Northeast Wisconsin.

“In March, when all this was happening, we made a plan to get our seniors out there, a little bit quicker and so we accelerated the last clinical, I believe that was the Department of Health that forgave a little bit of the clinicals, to get them to the bedside,” said Rentmeester.

Students at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College also helped out a little earlier than expected as hospitalization rates increased this fall.

“The hospital units started to reach out and asked for our students to help in the COVID units and our students answered that call too,” said Scott Anderson, NWTC’s Dean of Health Sciences and Education.

Anderson said they’ve seen a slight increase in enrollment, about a 4 percent increase in nursing-related fields, but he can’t say it’s a directly result of the pandemic. However, he can say they haven’t lost any interested students because of the pandemic, which he said is even more telling for the future of healthcare.

“I think that’s really what our community should feel good about. The students that we have in the pipeline and that are going to be graduating and even continuing to sign up, they have been all hands on deck and it hasn’t slowed them down a bit,” said Anderson.

Anderson said this is not the first time the state has launched a campaign related to the health care field. He said a few years ago, the state launched the ‘WisCaregiver Career’ Program aimed at encouraging people to become caregivers for assisted living facilities.

“These types of campaigns make a difference,” said Anderson. “Through the WisCaregiver program, we were able to complete 302 more nursing assistants over a two year period than we than we did previous. So as these campaigns roll out, they will make a difference in our roadmap.”

Click here to learn more about WisHealth Careers.

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