Local Colleges Keeping Nursing Pipeline Going During Pandemic

DULUTH, Minn. – The pandemic is creating a strong need for more healthcare workers.

Northland colleges and universities are keeping the pipeline going to help address the urgency to fill open healthcare jobs.

Both Lake Superior College and the College of St. Scholastica have students ready to graduate this month.

This may be perfect timing as many healthcare settings in the region are struggling to maintain a strong workforce as the pandemic continues to bring forth challenges.

Lake Superior College is one of many higher education institutions in the region offering healthcare-related programs.

The school has a graduating class twice a year.

This year’s graduates are in especially high demand.

The Dean of Allied Health at the school says many students are enrolling because they recognize this need.

“Some people have realized they want to come into healthcare to help make that difference. We have welcomed a good number of students this year into those programs as people really want to be a part of making that difference,” said Anna Sackette-Urness.

The College of St. Scholastica is one of the very few universities offering an accelerated program.

Some students can graduate in fifteen months rather than two years.

Not only is the pandemic creating a shortage of healthcare employees, but other factors are also contributing to the lack of workers.

“We still have baby boomers who are retiring. We have an aging workforce that we need to compensate for and then we have this pandemic. Healthcare workers are affected by that,” said Sheryl Sandahl, Dean for the School of Nursing at The College of St. Scholastica.

The pandemic has also changed the way the College of St. Scholastica educates its nursing program students.

The school is now incorporating telehealth into the curriculum, where students simulate virtual health visits with patients.

This type of learning will become a permanent addition to the program because the need for telehealth will likely become greater for rural communities in the future.

Lake Superior College is on track to graduate about 50 nursing students this month and another 90 in the spring.

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