SSM Health is diligently working to grow our team, adding new pipelines for the next generation of health care professionals. Throughout 2022, the organization committed additional personnel to our recruitment team, offered incentives to existing staff for recruiting assistance and developed a formalized college recruitment program within each of SSM Health’s four states – Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Oklahoma.
Its mentor apprenticeship program for people with disabilities in partnership with the Fond du Lac and Madison Metropolitan School Districts was recognized in 2022 with an Exemplary Employer Award by the state’s Department of Workforce Development.
SSM Health also began a unique “extern program” to connect with future nurses while they are pursuing their degrees to provide additional in-hospital training on patient floors, emergency rooms, labor and delivery and behavioral departments. These student externs work a flexible, part-time schedule to get hands-on experience under nurse preceptor supervision concurrent with their classroom work.
In March of 2022, the health care provider dedicated a new nursing education center at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – Madison, which, thanks to technological equipment, will allow for sharing educational programming across our entire system. The new space offers 24/7 access to RQI training equipment and a simulated patient room so clinicians can complete hands-on training with mannequins before working with actual patients.
In addition to its existing scholarship and tuition reimbursement programs, SSM Health also established a new nursing education ladder designed to encourage and support caregivers at every level as they continue to build their skills, certifications and educational credentials.
Over the last few years, the organization offered paid educational opportunities for new recruits and existing employees interested in becoming certified nursing assistants or medical assistants in partnership with Madison College. Students agreed to a fixed period of employment with SSM Health upon successful completion of the program and incurred no out-of-pocket costs to participate.
The medical assistant program is a year-long commitment and includes classroom coursework, job shadowing and hands-on training and results in paid positions with SSM Health. The certified nursing assistant (CNA) program includes 3-4 weeks of online coursework coupled with on-the-job training in the locations where students will work upon graduation from the program.
Thanks to funding from a Wisconsin Fast Forward Grant, there was no cost for students to enroll in the most recent CNA program which opened doors to those who might normally have had barriers due to a lower socioeconomic status. As part of its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion commitment to improve the diversity of its workforce, SSM Health also set and exceeded its goal to help employ more people of color through this program. At least 40% of the newest CNA recruits are ethnically diverse and now have a career pathway in health care.