Leading up to the new academic year, colleges and universities have signed numerous partnership agreements of different shapes and sizes to meet the country’s workforce needs, particularly in healthcare.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 1.9 million fewer Americans are working today than a month before the pandemic started. Early retirement, low immigration rates and employees quitting after the Great Resignation have created such a delta that even if all 5.9 currently unemployed persons got a job, 4 million jobs would remain unfilled.
Healthcare is among the most significant industries struggling to fill jobs. “Nationwide research shows that more than 80,000 students interested in nursing were turned away from nursing programs in 2019 alone due to lack of capacity,” said Marsha Prater, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Memorial Health.
However, smaller two- and four-year institutions eager to meet workforce demands by bolstering the quality of their academic curriculum and quantity of graduates are often challenged by their limited capital or infrastructure.
Ranging from articulation agreements between public and private institutions and interstate collaborations, institutions are experimenting with different ways to blend together to strengthen their students’ workforce readiness and circumvent any roadblocks.
Tackling program deficiencies
Illinois College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing could once only graduate 20 nurses each year, but since partnering with Memorial Health, the college is poised to graduate 100 per year in the next five years. Memorial will be aiding the college in adding faculty and expanding its current curriculum.
Sometimes, it can take four to tango. Allegany College of Maryland, Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, Garrett College and Potomac State College of West Virginia University, whose enrollments all hover south of 1,000 students, recently signed a collaboration agreement to integrate and outsource their workforce development programs. Paramedic studies will kick off their pilot partnership program.
“All four presidents strongly support seamless pathways for residents in all of our communities to complete programs at any of our institutions in areas of critical workforce needs,” said Dr. Tom Striplin, president of Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College, Bedford Gazette reports. “There is no reason for every partner college to offer every program when the same goal can be accomplished more economically through this partnership.”
Articulation agreements streamline graduates
While articulation agreements have long been developing, one recent partnership in New York between a public and private institution stands out in its uniqueness and showcases the need to address New York’s nursing shortage.
SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College’s One-Hart initiative allows SUNY Pre-Nursing Advising Track students to transfer seamlessly into Hartwick’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. One-Hart will also leverage Hartwick’s relationship with the Bassett Healthcare Network to interview for an RN position.
“With SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College joining forces on the One-Hart collaboration, more well-qualified nurses will be field-ready sooner and able to help halt the nursing shortage we face here in New York State,” said New York Senator Peter Oberacker, according to a Hartwick press release.
Hartwick College’s pipeline with a public university that boasts over 5,000 students will help bolster its own enrollment, which currently hovers just north of 1,100 students, according to Niche.
Aspiring nurses at Northwest Iowa Community College will experience an even more streamlined process toward a bachelor’s degree. A recent agreement with the University of Iowa will allow Northwest Iowa students to gain their bachelor’s just one year after earning their associate degree.
This agreement comes at the heels of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reporting in April that more than 8,000 qualified bachelor’s in nursing applicants have been denied admission over the past five years in the Midwest.