Rock County nursing program aims to combat nurse shortage
JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) - University of Wisconsin- Whitewater at Rock County and Edgewood College partnered to start a new nursing program in an effort to educate and retain nurses for Southern Wisconsin communities.
According to the Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin healthcare facilities need to hire over 10,000 more nurses to meet the future predicted demand.
Historically, future nurses could take prerequisite classes at UW Whitewater and then they would have to transfer elsewhere to take nursing classes. According to nurse educators, this takes qualified nurses away from healthcare facilities looking to hire new employees in Southern Wisconsin.
Starting in the fall of 2023, students can complete their bachelors in science nursing degree at UW Whitewater’s Rock County campus in Janesville.
“Typically where nurses graduate is where they start to practice,” Edgewood College Director of Graduate Clinical Practica Rachel Icke said.
She predicts it will make health care work more accessible for students wanting to pursue a career in nursing in Southern Wisconsin.
“They can stay at home, continue working in their current place of employment and living with family if that’s more financially feasible for them,” Icke said.
UW-Whitewater Rock County College of Integrated Studies Dean Tricia Clasen said the new nursing program could also help with declining enrollment.
“In today’s world, people are looking for different kinds of educational opportunities,” Clasen said. “If we don’t make those kinds of investments and put our efforts into that, then we do see problems with enrollment and so we are looking forward rather than backward.”
UW-Whitewater and Edgewood College will partner with local health facilities to provide clinicals and in-the-field education for students. Those partners include the following: Beloit Memorial Hospital, Mercy Hospital, SSM St. Mary’s Hospital in Janesville and the Rock County Public Health Department.
Icke said Mercy Health has 150 openings that could be filled by nurses graduating from the Whitewater/Edgewood program.
The first graduating class will complete their BSN in 2025.
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