WHA Workforce Council Discusses Ways to Recruit and Retain Health Care Workers

Hospitals and health systems gaining resources to grow their workforce

July 30, 2019

WHA’s Council on Workforce Development received an update from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) about an innovative Wisconsin program aimed at growing the state’s certified nursing assistant (CNA) workforce by 3,000. Kevin Coughlin, Policy Initiative Advisor-Executive, Division of Medicaid Services, joined the group at their July 26 meeting to discuss the WisCaregiver Career program.

The program is a partnership between state agencies and providers made possible by $2.3 million in federal funding from nursing home Civil Monetary Penalty dollars. With almost 1,300 new nursing assistants successfully certified and 2,700 currently enrolled in training, Coughlin is confident the WisCaregiver Career program will meet the goal of 3,000 new CNAs.

DHS is applying for a two-year extension to build on the successes and lessons learned in the initial two years of the funding. Coughlin noted, “The message of a meaningful career in caregiving resonates with people, and we’ve been able to successfully compete with other types of employers to draw individuals into WisCaregiver careers.”

The Council also discussed WHA efforts underway to develop a co-branded health care salary survey with the Wisconsin Healthcare Human Resources Association (WisHHRA). Council members recognized the importance of data to building the right workforce for Wisconsin health care and offered their support as WisHHRA and WHA work together on a joint survey.

The group closed out the meeting with a discussion of current state and legislative efforts, including a proposal that would create an enhanced penalty for perpetrators of violence against health care workers. This proposal is currently limited to nurses and those who are supervised by nurses, but the Council agreed that violence in the health care workplace goes beyond this group.

Council members also concurred that an enhanced penalty is only a small component of health care workplace violence prevention. The Council’s next meeting will focus on efforts underway in Wisconsin’s hospitals and health systems to prevent violence from occurring with a goal of determining what resources will be most helpful to reduce health care workplace violence.

Readers interested in growing segments of their workforce, better utilizing their existing workforce, or increasing recruitment and retention to their health care teams, can contact WHA’s Vice President of Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk or any member of WHA’s Government Relations team.

This story originally appeared in the July 30, 2019 edition of WHA Newsletter