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Supporting a 21st Century Health Workforce to Build a Healthier Milwaukee

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United Health Foundation and Milwaukee Area Technical College are working together to double the size of the school's registered nursing program over the next three years and help address the state's growing nurse shortage.

What happens when you combine an aging baby boomer population and a retiring health care workforce? A growing need for trained nurses who can meet the health care challenges of today and tomorrow.

More than 1 million additional nurses will be needed by 2022. In Wisconsin, the state's nursing workforce will need to grow by 24 percent – 11,000 new nurses – in the next three years in order to meet the rising needs of local residents.  By training and equipping the next generation of health care professionals,  we can improve health care delivery and outcomes for families in Milwaukee and southwest Wisconsin and also address one of Wisconsin's greatest health care challenges – the growing nursing shortage.

The nursing shortage is affecting all levels of care in the state, and is expected to escalate.  That is one of the reasons UnitedHealth Group, through support from United Health Foundation, is partnering with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). MATC has served as a provider of high-quality education and training for registered nurses for 70 years. Through the partnership, MATC plans to double the size of its registered-nursing program over the next three years, ensuring that more highly trained, culturally competent registered nurses will be ready to enter the workforce by 2020.

By increasing recruitment at local high schools and lower-income communities throughout Milwaukee, MATC will give more students the opportunity to pursue their dream to care for others where it is needed most. MATC also plans to expand the number of tutors, teaching assistants and other support services to ensure their students have access to additional resources throughout their education.

"The projected shortage of registered nurses has been identified as one of the greatest workforce challenges facing the health care industry that will affect services at all levels of care," said MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin. "Partnering with UnitedHealth Group to prepare the next generation of registered nurses will have a profound impact on students, the health care industry and the communities we both proudly serve."

The partnership with MATC ensures the future health workforce has access to mentors who are actively delivering local care to Milwaukee families. Earlier this year, nurse practitioners from Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company, met with 50 MATC nursing students who are graduating in December 2017. The Optum nurse practitioners offered career advice to the students as they plan to complete their degrees, ensuring a personal connection and resource that can help guide these future health care professionals as they transition to the workforce. This sort of professional mentoring is a staple of the enduring partnership between UnitedHealth Group and MATC.

Clinical training opportunities also provided by MATC's local partners are vital to expanding the nursing program. Aurora Health Care, Ascension Health, Children's Hospital, Froedtert Hospital & Medical College of Wisconsin, and dozens of long-term care facilities will enable MATC to add 36 additional clinical training sites throughout the area.

The commitment of UnitedHealth Group and MATC to nurses and a future health workforce is year-round. Nurses champion and promote the health of local communities and have an invaluable role in society. Nurses are the frontline of defense in the prevention of illness and injury.

"It is important for us to raise awareness about nursing as a career path and to inform the public about the type of work nurses are doing every day to help people live healthier lives," said Dr. Martin.

Learn more about the partnership.



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