December 12, 2019

Innovative partnerships help combat the nursing shortage in Missouri

Like many healthcare providers, Health Systems, Inc. (HSI) had a problem. They had long-term care facilities within the HSI system, but, had trouble finding enough qualified and licensed LPN’s to staff their facilities, including a nursing home in Troy, MO. The normal recruitment processes weren’t working to fill the many openings they had for nursing staff, so HSI decided to try a different approach. 

“We advertised and held job fairs, our upper management even tried some international recruitment,” said Lori Forbeck, Nurse Educator for HSI. “But hiring nurses, especially those to serve in rural areas proved to be very difficult – the qualified nurses just weren’t available. I made a comment to my boss that I wished we could grow our own nurses to fill these openings and, with her support, began looking for options to help us do that.”

Forbeck reached out to the Missouri Board of Nursing to inquire about the approval process for establishing a new practical nursing program in the state. The Board recommended that it might be more efficient for HSI to pursue a partnership with an institution of higher education, already serving the Troy area, to provide practical nursing education. HSI was put in touch with the St. Charles Community College Practical Nursing Program to discuss establishing a new program site in Troy.

“This partnership between St. Charles Community College and Health Systems, Inc. is a great example of businesses, educators and the Missouri Board of Nursing working collaboratively to address the nursing shortage, especially in our rural communities, “ said Lori Scheidt, Executive Director of the Missouri Board of Nursing.

HSI provided the nursing program with training facilities in close proximity to their long-term care facility in Troy. These facilities include a large multi-purpose classroom as well as skills, simulation and computer labs to meet instructional needs of students at the site. St. Charles Community College is utilizing ITV equipment to remotely connect students to their classes at the main campus. The teaching faculty plan to provide real-time instruction from the main campus, in addition to the program expansion site in Troy. At least 1 nursing faculty member will be permanently stationed at the Troy expansion site to oversee theory, lab and clinical instruction, as well as providing support for nursing students. 

HSI employees, currently working in health-care related positions, are offered the opportunity to complete the practical nursing program with financial support from their employer. Currently, seven students have been accepted into the program. These 7 are already certified nurse aides working for the nursing home. This is a good model for retention, as the participants already live in the community and work for HSI. 

“The program is serving the needs of both the company and our students, many of who would not have otherwise been able to pursue higher education,” Forbeck said. “Because we partnered with others to bring nursing education to our students, we are able to grow our own workforce and provide them with an opportunity that may have otherwise been out of reach. We’re very interested in the possibility of expanding this to other areas of the state.”