Aspirus: Innovating to Address Health Care Workforce Challenges | Press Room

The state of Wisconsin is experiencing unprecedented vacancy rates in health care professions, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association’s (WHA’s) 2022 Health Care Workforce Report released today.

The two main factors are workers leaving the health care industry entirely or retiring early. These trends have been referred to as the “Great Resignation” and “Silver Tsunami.”

Those factors are impacting health care organizations everywhere.

“There’s been a mass exodus of health care workers across the nation and our community is no different,” said Aspirus Talent Mobility Program Specialist Mason Heldt. “All of the events around the world over the past two years have had a big impact on people leaving the health care field.”

The numbers are concerning, but Aspirus has taken measures to ensure it can meet community needs for years to come.

As the state’s health care industry seeks to attract new workers and build new capacity from within, it must also adapt to the expectations of a new, younger workforce, the WHA report explains, recommending collaboration among health care stakeholders in support of organizational, public and payer policies that build partnerships and train local talent.

“At Aspirus we’re doing a lot of things to try and train new staff and retain our current employees,” Heldt said. “We’ve launched many successful programs with those goals in mind.”

As recent innovative efforts, Aspirus:

  • Launched a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program in January of 2021 in partnership with Northcentral Technical College.
    • 12 successful classes achieved a 60 percent retention rate.
  • Launched a Medical Assistant (MA) internship program in September of 2021.
    • 2 successful cohorts achieved an 80 percent retention rate.
  • Implemented an expanded student nurse intern program in 2021 with three cohorts a year.
    • These efforts have achieved a 66 percent retention rate.
  • Strengthened partnerships with local schools across the region to increase pipeline opportunities.

The success of these programs can already be seen across the Aspirus system.

Allison Ress is a Registered Nurse and Clinical Educator currently working on the Aspirus Wausau Hospital Inpatient Rehab Unit after completing the Aspirus Student Nurse Intern program.

“I’m from Merrill, Wisconsin and I knew that I wanted to work somewhere that served my local community,” she said. “That was something that was very important, which is something that Aspirus is very big into throughout Wisconsin and the UP.”

New employees such as Ress are starting careers at Aspirus or entering programs that will give them the opportunity to make a difference in their communities.

“The Aspirus Student Nurse Intern Program was so helpful in building my nursing career,” Ress said. “It was great getting some real-world experience and I felt very confident coming into my first job with Aspirus.”

So far, 1,364 unique individuals were placed in rotations across the system in 2021. In addition, Aspirus has increased student internship/clinical placements by 166 students.

Aspirus is committed to uphold its reputation as one of the best health care systems in the country and will continue to seek new and innovative programs to ensure it can continue to deliver the best care possible.

Visit the Aspirus website for more information on student placement programs, nursing careers or other health care career opportunities.