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GREEN BAY, Wis. – This week is National Nursing Week.
The week was created to celebrate the occupation, but that celebration is being over-shadowed by a shortage of nurses.
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says the state will need to fill more than 5,300 nursing positions in the next six years.
Allison Lomax didn’t always want to be a nurse.
“I wanted to be a doctor,” Lomax says.
But here she is, awaiting graduation Saturday.
She already has a nursing position waiting for her, but the road to get there wasn’t easy.
“I did apply for the nursing program at Madison, it’s about a 40 percent acceptance rate,” says Lomax. “I got wait-listed and I didn’t want to wait, I wanted to go into the field, so I started looking at other options.”
Lomax was a part of the 50-80 percent of students who aren’t accepted into a UW system nursing program.
That’s why Bellin College became an option for Lomax.
“The unique thing about us here at the college is that they are a direct admit, there is no waiting,” says Bellin College president Connie Boerst. “They are entered into the nursing program immediately, so it’s a real plus. We get them in right away and we get them out and back into the workforce much quicker.”
Hospitals are aware of the shortage.
Half of the nurses in the United States are 50 or older and plan to retire in the next 10 to 15 years.
Baby boomers are getting older and will need medical attention which means they need more nurses.
But there are ways they can entice more people to join the field.
“As individuals join our organization we look and offer tuition reimbursement,” says chief nursing officer for Bellin Hospital Laura Hieb. “We have many folks who may start off in a nursing assistant type of role and they aspire to be a nurse and so within the organization we would support that through tuition reimbursement.”
Though the statistics may be disparaging, there is hope.
“I know a lot of people are learning more about nursing now than when I was in high school,” says Lomax. “A lot of people are going into nursing programs now which I think is awesome and I think we just need more promotion for the field of nursing.”
Bellin College is holding its graduation Saturday.
102 students will be receiving their diploma.
On Monday, April 2 Bellin College, Bellin Health and the Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care co-sponsored an evening program on Human Trafficking for healthcare professionals. In October 2017 there was a news report of more than 80 people being arrested in Wisconsin as part of a nationwide human trafficking operation. Sixteen of those arrests happened in Brown County. Sadly, that was not unique. Earlier in July, 35 men were arrested throughout Brown County. Dawn Spang, outreach coordinator for EyeHeart World and Sgt. Matt Wilson from the Brown County Sheriff’s Department presented to area professionals at Bellin College on what they need to know to identify victims of trafficking and what resources are available to support survivors.
The Bellevue Fire Department has received $1,500 for ballistic vests. Bellin College presented a check to the firefighters Monday morning. The college provided funds to buy the plates that go in the vests. The Regional Trauma Advisory Council helped pay for the rest. The vests protect EMS crews who respond to an active shooter or other emergency incident. The vests are bullet-resistant and can hold emergency equipment, such as scissors, gauze and tape. The EMS crew will put the vests into service this week. The fire department has eight of them. The vests are costly for smaller departments, like Bellevue, to purchase. They rely on donations.
Simulators at Bellin College are allowing students training to be nurses and medical imagers, get more hands-on learning.
Students from Bellin College will join two professors from the Bellevue school and a pair of health professionals from Bellin Health on a flight Saturday morning to Guatemala.
On January 7-15, 2017, 13 students, 4 faculty members-nurse practitioners and Bellin Health medical providers will travel to Guatemala for a special medical mission trip serving the poorest of the poor.
Student Trips and Transformations is a service-oriented group that recently started at Bellin College. The idea came from a similar program at St. Norbert College, with the goal of nurturing health care professionals who are socially informed, empathetic and have a better understanding of the connections between health care and poverty.
Twice a year, a group of nursing students from Bellin College travel to Haiti.
They work with the locals, offering free medical care, while gaining hands-on experience.
Some students, who took the trip in April, shared their life-changing experience.
"As a nurse, you know that you can provide some things for them. So it seemed like a good opportunity to give back to those people in need," said Allison Gries, of Kaukauna.