Workforce Council Explores Career Pathways & Pathway Funding

Council Chair ends 6-year term

October 13, 2017

Nicole Clapp, CEO, Grant Regional Health Center, Lancaster, chaired her last WHA Council on Workforce Development October 12. WHA and council members shared their appreciation for Nicole’s leadership.

“We appreciate Nicole’s service, and we sincerely thank her for chairing a Council that addresses one of WHA’s top priorities—workforce.” According to WHA President/CEO Eric Borgerding, “Nicole understands the challenges of staffing a hospital around the clock. Her expertise and leadership have been indispensable in helping to inform the Council’s dialogue and recommendations to the WHA Board.”

The October 12 Council meeting covered a broad array of topics, including new health care career pathways, legislative accomplishments and priorities related to workforce, and the soon-to-be released 2017 WHA Wisconsin Health Care Workforce Report.

UW-Whitewater is considering how best to shape a degree completion program for associate’s degree holders in allied health fields, such as occupational and physical therapy assistants, radiographers and respiratory therapists, and Council members had an opportunity to weigh in. Lauren Smith, PhD, director of adult learning, and Liz Hachten, associate dean for letters and sciences, UW-Whitewater, posed program questions to the Council, such as career opportunities for degree holders and what type of courses in what setting should be offered. Council members agreed that a bachelor’s degree program in health care leadership for allied health professionals would address a need for health care leaders across settings, health educators, population health navigators and case managers. Council members recommended a broad degree in health care leadership as preferable to specialized degree paths, noting, they already have their technical specialty grounding them in health care; the up and comers need to be able to lead on a broader level than their specialty. While online programs offer access and convenience, this Council comprised of health care executives and HR leaders noted, “It can’t all be online; our future leaders need to be able to communicate, problem solve, negotiate and resolve conflict,” emphasizing the need for in-person interaction.

WHA Senior Vice President of Government Relations Kyle O’Brien provided a budget and legislative update. O’Brien shared highlights of the now enacted 2017-19 state budget, including no cuts to Medicaid funding, an 83 percent increase to Medicaid’s Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program, and a new WHA-created Medicaid Rural Critical Care Supplement payment for hospitals who only miss DSH payments because they do not provide OB care. O’Brien encouraged members to continue to pursue grant opportunities made available by enactment of the Wisconsin biennial state budget, stating, “The state budget includes two new, WHA-created rural health care workforce training programs, modeled after our success in the GME grant program, providing matching dollars for a hospital or clinic to train physician assistants and advanced practice nurses, and for the creation of allied health professional training consortia by hospitals, health systems and educational institutions.” 

In providing an update to the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council’s fee schedule proposal, opposed by WHA, O’Brien said, “Wisconsin’s top-quality health care impacts Wisconsin’s work comp program, getting Wisconsin workers back to work faster, using fewer temporary total disability days than any other state, with costs that compare favorably to the national average; yet the Workers Compensation Advisory Council voted to support a fee schedule to reimburse hospitals, doctors and other practitioners who provide health care services to injured workers through the worker’s compensation program.” HR leaders from the Council agreed that fee schedules would not reduce our costs as employers.

Finally, O’Brien provided an update on legislation that would exempt large employers from state FMLA requirements. Workforce council members were supportive of this solution to a problem HR leaders and employers face. One member noted, “FMLA harmonization would provide a solution to HR departments having two sets of laws to comply with and would maintain benefits for Wisconsin employees at current levels.”

Building on O’Brien’s legislative update, Ann Zenk, WHA vice president, workforce and clinical practice, provided an update on Wisconsin’s progress to join the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). The eNLC allows nurses holding a license issued by another state participating in the compact to continue to utilize a voluntary, alternative and expedited process to receive a privilege to practice nursing in Wisconsin. Zenk said, “This is a legislative priority for the fall session, and with 96 cosponsors for eNLC Assembly Bill 500 and Senate Bill 417, great progress is being made.”

Zenk also was able to provide a preview of the WHA 2017 Wisconsin Health Care Workforce Report, due for release later in October. “This year’s report includes stories from across the state demonstrating the workforce challenges, opportunities, and innovations Wisconsin’s hospitals, health systems, educators and policymakers take on in building Wisconsin’s health care workforce,” said Zenk.

This story originally appeared in the October 13, 2017 edition of WHA Newsletter