In our rural communities, corn and soybeans aren’t the only things we grow, we also grow our own staff.
In 2020, Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital and Clinics were pleased to receive a Department of Health Services Allied Health Professional Education and Training Grant, which funded tuition costs for allied health professional students. This grant was the fertilizer to our “grown our own” efforts.
The grant provided tuition support for a medical assistant, lab technician, and surgical technologist, and Gundersen St. Joseph’s has had great success with two of these positions.
Angel Ennis came to us as an applicant for a registration position. While reviewing her resume, we saw that she was about to start school to become a medical assistant. We immediately offered her this free grant-supported tuition opportunity and she accepted. Once she had completed her first semester, we hired her as a casual MA in our specialty clinic to give her hands-on experience. Angel completed her clinicals within our facility and graduated in August of 2022. She is now a full-time employee working at our family medicine Rural Health Clinic in Elroy.
“I feel this grant really helped me thrive as a person,” says Angel. “Being accepted into this grant program really helped remove the financial stress while in school. Working as a medical assistant, getting the hands-on experience, while also attending the Medical Assistant Program really helped me excel in the program.”
Becky Walker is our massage therapist and was looking to expand her knowledge after the pandemic left her unsure about her future with massage therapy. The program provided tuition support for Becky to enroll in the Medical Lab Technician program with Weber State, a fully online Medical Lab Technician program. Becky started her clinicals with our Gundersen St. Joseph’s lab in the fall of 2022 and will conduct her spring 2023 semester in both Hillsboro and Gundersen La Crosse labs. In rural health, with staffing shortages and volume fluctuations, it’s more important than ever to have multi-disciplined personnel. We’re excited to be able to utilize Becky in both our hospital lab and as a massage therapist.
“Removing the financial barrier to learning was a huge help for me. I’m thankful to have had this opportunity to grow my skills and provide more flexibility to Gundersen St. Joseph’s,” says Becky. “Being able to do my clinicals at St. Joe’s and within the Gundersen system helped me learn better with people I already had a working relationship with.”