Wisconsin Technical College System: Ministry Health Care aids training of health care workers with $400,000 contribution

Kathy Cullen, WTCS,

Tim Drinan, Ministry Health Care,

MADISON — Ministry Health Care is contributing $400,000 to several Wisconsin technical colleges to address the current and future need for trained professional registered nurses and health care workers coming out of the Wisconsin Technical College System. A little over a year ago, Ministry Health Care made a similar contribution of over $500,000 to several technical colleges in response to the health care worker shortage in Wisconsin. The new funds will be distributed this year to several technical colleges located in Wood, Marathon, Oneida and Brown counties.

“This is a great example of a private entity partnering with the technical colleges to help ensure our communities have essential health care services,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System. “Ministry Health Care has a stake in this, but this is also a benefit to everyone in Wisconsin who uses health care services,” Carpenter added.

“Despite current supply shortages of registered nurses and other allied health care professionals, we are confident that Ministry’s relationship with Wisconsin’s technical colleges will remain strong to ensure an adequate supply of professionals are available to meet the health care needs of patients both now and for the longer term,” said Nicholas Desien, president & CEO of Ministry Health Care.

The funding will be used to increase capacity and reduce long waiting lists in health care programs at the colleges, including such areas as Registered Nursing, Nursing Assistant, and Radiography, and will ultimately assist in the goal of directing more health care workers into Wisconsin communities.

“Our colleges have worked hard to reallocate funding to create more seats in health care programs, but that can only go so far in these tight budget times,” said Carpenter. “That’s why private contributions like these are so critical.”

Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges graduated 32 percent more health occupations students in 2002-03 than in 2001-02 and system officials expect that trend to continue, especially with more reallocations and the second contribution by Ministry. Despite gains made in the number of health care graduates, the technical college system reports the demand for nurses and allied health care workers is outpacing supply by about 1,000 each year. This is expected to get worse, as Wisconsin’s aging population continues to grow.

“This truly is a unique collaboration, and we are beginning to see the positive effects emerging,” said Desien. “As people continue to age, the demand for qualified nurses and health workers will continue to increase. We believe our partnership with the colleges is not only important, it is necessary.”

Beneficiaries of the contribution include Mid-State Technical College ($150,000); Nicolet Area Technical College ($75,000); Northcentral Technical College ($150,000); and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College ($25,000).

“In the short term, this is allowing more students to pursue their health careers,” said Sister Lois Bush, Ministry’s senior vice president of mission and culture integration. “In the long term, our hope is that an increase in the number of registered nurses moving into the workforce will eventually lessen some of the workplace burdens and overtime pressure nurses currently face.”

Ministry Health Care is a values-driven health care delivery network of 14 hospitals, numerous clinics and other providers, based in Wisconsin and Minnesota. With over 12,000 employees, including physicians and health professionals, Ministry also offers home health, hospice, long-term care facilities, dialysis services, a health plan and many other services. For additional information on Ministry Health Care, log on to www.ministryhealth.org.

The Wisconsin Technical College System has 16 technical college districts throughout Wisconsin, which offer more than 300 programs awarding two-year associate degrees, one- and two-year technical diplomas and short-term technical diplomas. In addition, the system is the major provider of customized training and technical assistance to Wisconsin’s business and industry community. One out of every nine adults in Wisconsin receives education from the state’s 16 technical colleges. The WTCS Web site is located at www.witechcolleges.com.