From biztimes.com: “DWD awards grants to Gateway and Waukesha County Technical Colleges” – Gateway Technical College has received nearly $1.9 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funding, while Waukesha County Technical College has been allocated close to $1.7 million, Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development announced today.

The two technical colleges were awarded portions of a grant initiative totaling more than $28 million that Gov. Scott Walker announced last week.

According to Walker’s announcement, Wisconsin is distributing more than $28 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grants to the Wisconsin Technical College System to train more than 4,900 workers.

That system encompasses 16 schools, including Gateway Technical College in Kenosha and Waukesha County Technical College in Pewaukee.

At Gateway Technical College, grant dollars will support the training of a maximum 756 workers in several “high-demand areas,” the DWD said. Those areas touch disciplines in manufacturing, business management, apprenticeship, education, health care and more.

At Waukesha County Technical College, up to 168 workers will benefit from grant dollars. Workers will be trained for careers in manufacturing, education and human services, and applied science fields.

Transportation, distribution and logistics training will also be covered under the grants.

“These grant dollars will significantly impact the journey of our students pursuing high-demand programs such as welding, computer numerical control (CNC), early childhood education and transportation, and in turn benefit our local economy,” said Kaylen Betzig, interim president of Waukesha County Technical College. “We are pleased and honored that the governor recognizes WCTC’s work as an important and valuable investment.”

From biztimes.com: “MATC to get $2.6 million from state for worker training” — Milwaukee Area Technical College will get $2.6 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward grant funds from the state to train up to 546 workers for in-demand fields, Gov. Scott Walker announced today.

The funds are part of a $28 million grant package, announced earlier this week, for the state’s technical colleges to train up to 4,908 workers for jobs that employers need to fill.

“The Wisconsin Fast Forward program makes targeted investments in worker training, which will strengthen the workforce and ensure we have workers to fill the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Walker said.

MATC will receive: $687,960 to train 125 students in early childhood education, $652,113 to train 66 students in truck driving, $546,945 to train 307 students in health care to be certified nursing assistants, and $703,500 to train 48 students in CNC manufacturing.

“This grant will provide MATC the opportunity to prepare area residents for employment in high-demand fields in southeastern Wisconsin,” said MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin. “These programs are among our most popular and the funds will allow us to educate, train, and prepare more students for careers that are essential to Wisconsin’s economic vitality.”

From haywardwi.com: “Demand rises for home health care workers” – by Patty Murray, Wisconsin Public Radio – The move to keep older people in their own homes as long as possible has meant more demand for home health care workers — a job that is not only tough, but that can be low-paying as well.

Home health care workers go into an older or disabled person’s home to help them with tasks that range from the mundane, like shoe-tying, to the intimate, like baths and going to the toilet.

It’s work that Shelly Waltman enjoys.

“It’s not like a job over there,” said Waltman. “It’s just like having another family out there.”

Waltman is a certified home health provider who works through N.E.W. Curative, a nonprofit based in Green Bay. Four mornings each week, she works with a couple who are in their 70s.

“Right now I wouldn’t call them ‘elderly,’ but aging,” she said.

The husband has Alzheimer’s disease. She gets him cleaned and dressed and monitors his medication.

Waltman has done the work for years and said it takes patience and compassion.

“One minute, like a lamb — the next minute, you could be getting hit,” she said. “So, you’ve got to be able to take the tough with the good.”

Caregivers like Waltman might be hired by family members who need a break, or they could be the client’s main source of help. They can work through private companies, or places like N.E.W. Curative.

All in-home caregivers need some level of certification. Green Bay’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College graduates 700 certified nursing assistants each year. Students can also get a short personal care worker certification.

Cindy Theys, the school’s associate dean in the health sciences department, said the work is rewarding, but nursing assistants deal with people when they’re not at their best.

“You can’t curl up your nose if something doesn’t smell pretty, because that’s what is going to happen,” said Theys. “Even the ability to touch other people — there are people who are very uncomfortable being touched, and there’s people who are very uncomfortable touching others. But you will have to be touching people.”

NWTC claims an 85 to 90 percent placement rate for its health care graduates. Starting jobs pay between $10 to $12 an hour.

Those numbers sound good to Erica Huettl, who is pursuing a registered nursing degree. She is looking to get experience dealing with patients and is considering a job as a nursing assistant in either an in-home setting or at a nursing home. She said there’s a lot to choose from, and it’s a good way to get experience — but not to get rich.

“Obviously, with more education and the higher you go with nursing, that pay goes up,” she said.

Using a CNA as a launching pad can pay off over time. A recent NWTC survey of its graduates shows RNs can make about $50,000 dollars a year within five years of graduation.

For those who aren’t pursuing a higher degree of nursing, home health care seems to be more of a lifestyle than a career. Shelly Waltman said it’s easy to get attached to clients, even those who are rather difficult.

“Watching somebody fail; knowing that some types of the things they’re going through will progress,” she said. “(Knowing) how hard of a time the family has with it and being able to empathize. Because I did have a grandma who had issues like that. That’s the hard part.”

 

From htrnews.com: “District, college awarded grants” — MISHICOT – The Mishicot School District and Lakeshore Technical College were awarded grants from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to develop or expand creative programs that prepare high school students for the workforce or post-secondary education through training in high-demand fields.

The investment is part of Governor Scott Walker’s Blueprint for Prosperity, a comprehensive agenda to provide tax relief and invest in worker training to move Wisconsin along a path to prosperity.

The Mishicot School District was awarded $87,384 to launch an initiative to further opportunities for students in the areas of manufacturing and welding.

LTC was awarded $32,064 for its CNA program, $19,444 for its hospitality program, and $13,629 for its safety program.

DWD’s Office of Skills Development is administering the grant program. The school-to-work programs will kick off during the 2014-15 academic year.

From chippewa.com: “Nursing program offers new career to CVTC grad” — Bethany Smith of Menomonie found manufacturing work wasn’t quite right for her, especially after her hours changed. Now she’s about to embark on a new career after completing the Nursing-Associate Degree program at Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC).

“I was working a full-time job, and they switched to a 12-hour shift. I decided I didn’t want to do that the rest of my life,” Smith said.

Smith was one of 621 graduates in 44 academic programs honored Friday night at the CVTC spring commencement ceremony held at UW-Eau Claire’s Zorn Arena. On Thursday, CVTC honored 46 graduates in five programs at its River Falls Campus. The number of graduates at Eau Claire was very similar to the spring 2013 graduation, which honored 626 graduates.

Retraining help

The most popular programs among this spring’s graduates at the Eau Claire campus are Nursing, with 80 graduates, Business Management with 38 graduates, and Electrical Power Distribution with 30.

When Smith, a single mother, decided to go back to school, she found help through the Bridges2Healthcare program that provides job retraining for displaced and low income workers. The program helped her explore opportunities in the healthcare field.

“I always wanted to do something in the medical field,” Smith said. “I have always been fascinated by the human body and how it works, and I like taking care of people.”

Smith is considering emergency room or surgical work as long-term goals in the nursing field.

“The decision to go back to school was an easy one, but leaving the security of a full-time job was hard,” she said.

Speakers

Among the other graduates was student speaker Ashley Weiss of Menomonie, who is originally from Gilmanton, in the Administrative Professional program. She urged the graduates to have confidence that they can achieve their goals and overcome their failures.

“If you want something bad enough, what you have accomplished here today should be enough to show you that you can absolutely reach any goal you set your mind to,” she said. “But don’t be afraid of failure on your way there. Sometimes those failures are what motivate you to do better and push yourself harder.”

 

From weau.com: “Nurses educators discuss future nursing shortage” – It’s a profession that’s expected to grow nearly 20% in the next 10 years.

In the coming years more nurses will be needed in the area and that has educators and employers looking to the future.

Local nursing programs like the one at Chippewa Valley Technical College say they have a one to three year waiting list to get in and every semester nearly 80 students graduate with degrees.

That may sound like a lot but these programs will need to expand in the future to meet the growing need.

“It’s what I have wanted to do since I was a little girl and I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Registered Nurse Elizabeth Bohl said.

For Elizabeth Bohl, who has worked as an R.N. at Sacred Heart Hospital for a year, nursing is more than a career.

Bohl is just one of the nurses that hit the pavement Wednesday to celebrate Nurse’s Week along the trails of Carson Park. The day is a time to thank the men and women who are there day in and day out to help us when we need it. In the coming years we’ll need more nurses to treat the aging population.

“As the baby boomers retire we are going to see higher need for nursing professionals,” CVTC Associate Dean of Health Linda Krueger said.

Krueger says since she first started at CVTC she’s seen all of the health care programs get bigger and the need for more nursing graduates is a shortage they are hoping to fill.

“We tend to admit 72 to 88 students a semester and then we graduate every semester 80 to 85 students,” Krueger said.

Even with a fresh batch of faces graduating every couple of months from CVTC’s Nursing Program, those in the business say the need for more help is still there.

“We are full almost every day of the week and it just keeps getting busier,” Registered Nurse Roxanne Mewhorter said.

It’s not just quantity, it’s quality. Despite the growing need, both nurses and educators say patient care will always be a top priority.

“We are still concerned with patient outcomes and that’s where good nursing care comes in,” Krueger said.

“I like to see the patients and their families. You can see that you can make a difference and helped them. It’s always a push to go back to work,” Bohl said.

On top of a projected shortage in nurses in the future, four Wisconsin universities including UW-Eau Claire are offering a loan forgiveness program to students trying to get into nursing education. That program is meant to fill the growing need for nursing instructors.

From lacrossetribune.com: “La Crosse summit seeks Rx for health gap for disadvantaged” –Coulee Region health officials are pressing their quest to improve residents’ overall well-being by diagnosing the impact of factors such as socioeconomic conditions.

The evolving concept of health equity “includes health care, but it’s a lot more,” said Jordan Bingham, who will address the topic as keynote speaker Friday at the annual Health Summit of the La Crosse Medical Health Science Consortium.

“Having access to health care is only about 20 percent of it,” said Bingham, health equity coordinator for public health in Madison and Dane County. “Other things include the environment — and I don’t mean just clean air and water. Those play a part, but it also includes healthy housing, healthy food and healthy activities.”

Some people don’t have access to such advantages, she said, adding, “Where people live, their education, their income, race and social class are significant health predictors.

“Over the years, we’ve educated people on how to be healthy but not addressed the environmental factors,” Bingham said.

The theme of the summit from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Lunda Center at Western Technical College is “Health Equity: The Opportunity for Health Begins in Our Families, Neighborhoods, Schools and Jobs.”

It piggybacks on the outcome of the summit last year, when participants resolved to examine factors such as income, poverty and education, consortium executive director Catherine Kolkmeier said.

“I hear more and more in the community about how health is tied to people’s circumstances — how we live, where we work,” Kolkmeier said.

“There is a lot of momentum in the community about neighborhood revitalization, and that is tied into health,” Kolkmeier said.

Previously, health considerations often were split into clinical care at hospitals, the physical environment in the city and county and socioeconomic conditions that various public agencies addressed, she said.

“It’s become more obvious now that you can’t separate the health and the socioeconomic conditions,” she said.

Although data exist on the federal and state levels, it’s harder to discern statistics locally, so the consortium is working on that, Kolkmeier said.

The consortium, which covers 20 counties in the tri-state area, and other local agencies have developed a reputation for taking health initiatives seriously, said Bingham, who previously was the state’s Healthy Communities coordinator.

“A lot of places around the state see La Crosse as a leader,” she said. “Folks there are doing great work with smoke-free living … and increasing access to healthy foods and activities.”

Avoiding the political rabbit hole of the Affordable Care Act, Bingham said Obamacare at least is creating access to health care for people who didn’t have it before.

Beyond that, though, she said, “What is our responsibility to create opportunities for people to live, work, learn and play?”

Bingham acknowledged differences between urban and rural areas.

“Urban communities traditionally are more walkable, more dense and have more resources,” such as being able to get to a park to exercise, she said.

“In rural settings, which are a huge challenge in Wisconsin, people may have a lot of physical activity. But in reality, most who live in rural areas traditionally drive to their jobs,” she said.

“When it comes down to it, the reality is we don’t all have the same opportunities,” she said. “I live close to two grocery stores. I can ride, walk, bus or drive to work.

“I can provide the basic needs, but people on limited income or with disabilities or who live in apartment where the only place to play is the parking lot cannot,” she said.

“All of us need to understand that our community isn’t healthy until all have the opportunities to close the health gap,” Bingham said.

“It may be obvious — but maybe not — it’s a sad state of affairs when where people live or their ZIP codes determine how healthy they are or how long they live.”

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