From lacrossetribune.com: “Health care, accounting, tech are hottest fields for area graduates” – Shainah Hughes knows she’ll find a job and support her family when she graduates.
Job security is one of the big reasons the 29-year-old student at Western Technical College is pursuing a degree in electronics and computer engineering.
“When I graduate, there’s going to be a need for that,” Hughes said.
Health care, accounting and technology are big draws for grads who want to live locally, but college officials agree there’s no hard and fast trend.
Job security is “huge” for today’s graduates, said Beth Dolder-Zieke, director of career services at Viterbo University.
Many started college on the eve of the recession.
“They heard you go to college, you do really well, get a job,” Dolder-Zieke said. “And then they go to college, and for those of them who were aware of what was going on, it was very discouraging.”
College grads have high expectations from their first job. Nationally, they expect a salary approaching $50,000 and “want opportunities for future growth,” Dolder-Zieke said.
For that, many are looking to health care.
More than 160 students graduated from Viterbo’s un-dergraduate nursing and nursing-completion programs last year. Western, UW-L, Winona State University and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical in Winona all offer degrees in health care, too.
Radiography, certified nursing assistant and physical therapy programs have a consistent following because of local hospitals, said Jackie Newman, career services specialist for Western.
“The regional area makes health care a popular pick,” Newman said.
Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are also in demand by local hospitals “because that’s a way that they can serve underserved populations,” said Tim Tritch, UW-L’s associate director of career services.
Health care-related work makes up nearly 20 percent of La Crosse jobs, and about 24 percent of Winona County jobs, according to state employment data.
Issac Tillman went back to college with plans to open a restaurant but wound up working in financial aid.
Tillman started in Western’s business management program, hoping to pad years of experience and a past degree in food service. He soon realized he wanted something more stable.
Tillman graduates this year and has already found work in Western’s financial aid office.
“It clicked,” Tillman said.
Accounting and technology are both strong choices for students like Tillman, who stay in the region, college officials say. Employers want skilled workers in both fields.
“Even when the economy goes bad, they still need accountants,” said Gale Lanning, director of admissions for Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical. “They have always been our consistent program that still will survive no matter what.”
Career choices vary as much as certificates and degrees available at the region’s colleges — especially when an aspiring college grad is willing to move for work, Tritch said. Proximity of two major job markets, the Twin Cities and Madison, creates myriad possibilities for students.
September 24, 2012
From thenorthwestern.com: “Regional job picture stabilizing: Skilled manufacturing, healthcare tops career bets” – Mass layoffs have eased at northeastern Wisconsin businesses and the demand for skilled workers is soaring.
Despite growing concerns about an overall global slowdown, business leaders say the region’s diverse economy continues to find markets for its goods and services, which means they need people to meet demand, making competition fierce for skilled workers.
Statewide, the jobless rate in July stood at 7.3 percent and around the region, unemployment rates ranged between 5.6 percent in Calumet County to 8.2 percent in Marinette County.
Jeff Sachse, a labor market analyst for the state Department of Workforce Development, does not anticipate jobless numbers will change dramatically in the short term but expects continued, gradual improvement for a variety of business sectors, particularly in manufacturing, health care and construction services.
“Clearly, welding and CNC (computer numerical control) machinists positions are what we hear about all the time,” said Sachse, who monitors employment activity for northeastern Wisconsin.
Large government contracts secured by shipbuilder Marinette Marine and Oshkosh Corp., a maker of military vehicles, are behind rising demand for those workers.
“Between Marinette (Marine) and Oshkosh (Corp.) they are pulling from the surrounding labor market, which has created a need throughout the system,” Sachse said.
Manufacturing still represents about a quarter of all employment in the region. However, the health care and construction industries also have seen steady job growth in recent months, Sachse said.
“The (federal) stimulus helped larger-scale projects. Roadwork, including (U.S. Highway) 41 is an example,” Sachse said. “But we’ve also seen some resurgence on the residential side.”
Sachse said the growing number of nursing homes and assisted living facilities around the region and expansion by the health insurance industry, particularly by insurance giants Humana and United Healthcare, is driving job creation in the health sector.
“The steady growth we’ve seen in health care has not necessarily been with the hospital systems,” he said. “Services tied to health care, particularly health insurance, have seen significant numbers and also demands from the aging population will put more demand on providers.”
Finding, retaining workers
Sachse said the regional manufacturing sector’s strength is the role it plays in the overall global supply chain. He said manufacturers have weathered economic downturns mostly because a majority of them supply components and parts to companies that make a variety of machinery worldwide.
This is the situation for Fox Valley Tool & Die, which has about 180 workers, spread across two plants in Kaukauna.
“We make the parts that make the parts,” said Mark Dennis, one of the owners of Fox Valley Tool & Die.
He recognizes there is heated competition for his workers, most of whom are machinists with specialized skills who can create custom parts and components.
Dennis said an aging workforce, especially in skilled areas, is a problem for regional manufacturers. As a part of a state effort to shore up future workers for manufacturers, Dennis has worked with high schools from Shiocton to Little Chute and other Fox Cities communities to introduce students to manufacturing.
He also works with Fox Valley Technical College on training programs for people interested in careers as machinists.
Getting to people early in their career planning is essential, Dennis said.
“It gives us a chance to show young people that the machine shops today may not be the ones their grandfathers worked in,” he said.
Dennis said many jobs, especially those requiring specialized skills, require a two-year degree.
His son, John, the CEO of Gardan, which employs about 50 workers at in Hortonville and Brillion, said he’s been fortunate to find qualified workers when his company needed to fill openings.
“I think because of the region’s strong farming and manufacturing tradition, people here just have a strong work ethic and many of those people settle in the region,” John Dennis said.
Health care outlook
The health care industry has been working with colleges and nursing schools over the past several years to ensure a steady flow of nurses will come into the system to replace those retiring.
Tom Veeser, chief nursing officer for Affinity Health System in Menasha and vice president of patient care at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton, said the health care industry recognizes that demands for services will increase as the nation ages.
Hospital operators also face competition for workers from an increasing number of care facilities for the elderly, which also are in need of registered nurses, certified nursing assistants and licensed practical nurses.
Traditionally, registered nurses tend to have an easier time finding work, Veeser said. But there also is a growing demand for certified nursing assistants.
“At least for us, it’s getting harder to recruit CNAs because they’re getting more lucrative salaries from nursing homes and sometimes from physician offices,” Veeser said. “We may not be able to compete on salary in some situations but we try to offer a better benefits package.”
September 19, 2012
From fox11online.com: “Groundbreaking for health and technology center” – GRAND CHUTE – Fox Valley Technical College is expanding. Tuesday, school officials broke ground on a new building.
The Health Simulation and Technology Center is expected to be completed next fall.
A $66.5 million public referendum passed last April will help pay for the project.
It features a three-story, 60,000 square foot building.
“It’s a very exciting day. We’ve been in the planning process for this facility for at least seven or eight years, and to see it come all together and actually turn the dirt today at our groundbreaking, is extremely exciting,” said Robert Sternhagen, the human patients simulator coordinator at FVTC.
Once completed, the new building will also feature new technology, including virtual reality and computer simulation.
August 17, 2012
From wiscnews.com: MATC-Portage campus shows off 2,200-square-foot expansion” — PORTAGE – The upside to being downsized, said Mark Huismann, is that he returned to school to pursue his passion. As the Wolfpack Welcome coordinator, he helped students Thursday with their identification cards for Madison Area Technical College’s Portage campus.
The campus underwent an expansion this year, and students had a chance to see the new campus with Thursday’s Wolfpack Welcome.
“I was in the work force for 20 years, and I got downsized. I decided that my next career was going to be my last,” Huismann said. The 47-year-old attends the MATC Truax campus for history and theater. The father of two said his goal is to be a teacher.
“So many companies are just shrinking. You don’t really have a choice. Everyone gets some lousy breaks in their life,” Huismann said. “Once you get involved in campus, you have a support net. Coming back where I am in life I’m more focused than when I was 18 at school with no responsibilities.”
Terri Bean graduated from MATC-Portage this spring and said the 2,200-square-foot expansion will help cut travel time and costs for students.
“All the classes I could take here I did. The ones you could only get in Madison were the ones I took online. So, hopefully this Portage expansion with a second teleconference room people won’t have to Madison for as many classes,” Bean said. “I was pushing for some of the advanced Microsoft classes they didn’t offer until this fall.”
The 1984 graduate of Portage High School lives in Westfield and works part-time at the college. The recent graduate from the administrative professional program began school work at Milwaukee Area Technical College from 1984 to 1985, Bean said, and then she got married and had three children. She returned to school in 2009 to the Portage campus.
“Most of the credits transferred. … I’ve always been the kind of person who when I start something I want to finish it,” Bean said.
A few people peeked into the anatomy lab with two model skeletons and over-sized ears and eyes ready to be opened and studied.
The chemistry/microbiology lab is lined with untouched test tubes and shiny beakers.
Both areas of expansion will be of use to Becky Rzepiejewski, who enrolled Thursday with the intent to study radiology. She’s a 2002 graduate of Portage High School and works as a server in a local business.
“I finally decided to go back to school. It’s been 10 years and if I don’t do it soon then I’m not going to do it. I’m almost 30 years old,” Rzepiejewski said.
The local campus was appealing, she said, because there’s no commute and she doesn’t have to move from her home in Portage.
MacKenzie Rostad, 18, graduated from PHS this spring. She’s interested in criminal justice and joining the city’s police department.
“I wasn’t ready to leave my home and go to a big college yet,” Rostad said. “It’s going to be so different from high school that I’m not sure what to expect.”
Wolfpack Welcome student ambassadors greeted students like Rostad to ease the transition.
“Our ultimate goal is fellowship. So many students are shy or unsure, so we go out of our way to make it a good environment,” Denise Cohn said.
August 8, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Federal funds help N.E.W. Community Clinic expand at NWTC”– The very week that the nation tips a hat to clinics for the poor, one of those facilities expands its staff, thanks to federal funds.
The N.E.W. Community Clinic at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College on Tuesday marked National Health Center Week with a visit from soon-to-be-retiring Sen. Herb Kohl. Clinic staff members honored the long-serving Milwaukee Democrat with an award for championing health care centers throughout his career.
The clinic is hiring an additional nurse practitioner and two other staffers this week with money Kohl helped get as part of his work on the Senate appropriations committee, said Bonnie Kuhr, CEO and administrator of the clinic who also directs two other clinics in Green Bay. The clinic received about $900,000 through the Affordable Care Act.
“The grant allows us to double our capacity,” Kuhr said.
National Health Care Week celebrates 17 health centers throughout Wisconsin, which have 90 sites, Kohl said. There are 1,100 such health centers around the nation with 8,500 sites. The clinics provide health care for uninsured and underinsured, but they end up helping everyone, Kohl said.
“These are people, many of whom are working but can’t afford insurance, who might not get health care at all, or, if they do, it’d be in the emergency room, where it is many, many times more expensive,” Kohl said. “If it’s here, it may be $40, compared with $800 or $900 in an emergency room. We are deeply indebted to you.”
Mary Rahr, director of the N.E.W. Clinic at NWTC, said that branch has treated more than 20,000 patients in its six years of existence.
The N.E.W. Clinic also has a facility in downtown Green Bay that services low-income individuals and families as well as another that is associated with the Salvation Army on the near northwest side of town, where it provides health care mostly to the homeless.
Gov. Scott Walker was originally scheduled to help the clinic kick off National Health Care Week Monday but canceled following the mass shooting Sunday in a Sikh temple in Oak Creek. Walker, a Republican, has opposed federal health care reform, also called Obamacare, and says he will not implement in Wisconsin changes the law brings to the health care industry.
The position doesn’t necessarily mean he opposes health care centers like N.E.W. clinics, which continue to receive state support as well as federal support, Kuhr said. The NWTC branch of the clinic operates mostly with state and federal money, but was required to raise matching funds to be eligible for the $900,000 federal grant, Kuhr said.
July 16, 2012
From wxow.com: “Nursing student saves drowning child” – After just one semester of nursing courses at Western Technical College, Megan Barbian figured she was at least a year and a half away from saving lives. However, that all changed Wednesday night, when a 20-month-old girl was pulled from the water at Pettibone Beach.
“When I started she had no pulse, no respirations, she was really really pale, her lips were a blackish purple color,” Barbian said.
Lifeguards were not on duty at the time and Megan was the only one on the beach who knew CPR.
“The little girl reminded me so much of my niece, and I was like ok, this is her, ” Barbian said. “You need to do, what you need to do to save her. Did it cross my mind that yeah she might not make it? Yeah, and I was scared. But I started compressions, and after a few minutes she took her first breath. And I was like, we’re getting somewhere.”
The child’s family wishes to remain anonymous, but did contact Western to tell them about Megan’s heroic actions.
“To me, Megan is an angel,” the girl’s grandmother said. “I mean, my granddaughter wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Megan. And I hope she’ll always be part of our family. It’s just remarkable that a stranger can do that.”
Gundersen Lutheran also took notice of Megan’s actions and offered her a job as a pediatric nurse when she finishes school.
“Just thank you, from the bottom of my heart Megan,” the grandmother said. “My family thanks you. You are going to be the best nurse in the world. And words cannot express how grateful we are.”
The child is now home and her family says she’s back to her normal self.
Both Megan and the girl’s grandmother say the incident highlights the importance of knowing CPR.
June 25, 2012
From htrnews.com: “Plant closing leads to new career for TR woman” – GREEN BAY — On Nov. 18, 2009, Linda Eis drove home from her job at the Budweiser plant in Manitowoc – a place she’d worked for the last 28 years – knowing that the future she’d planned for herself and her family would be changed forever. The plant was scheduled to close and she was losing her job.
Nervous and uncertain of her prospects, she drove to Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, poured over the health care program options, and decided on a new future.
Two and half years later, that decision would lead her to graduate from NWTC at the top of her class, becoming a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She would receive two prestigious national scholarships and emerge with bright prospects for a new career as a certified surgical technologist.
“Coming back to school after all these years, you’re scared,” said Eis, who lives in Two Rivers with her husband. “But the college is very ‘adult-learner-friendly.’ After a while, it started to give me back the confidence that I didn’t know I’d lost.”
Although Eis had been out of school for 32 years, she decided success in the classroom would lead to success in the workforce. She put in extra hours in the lab, studied extensively and focused on her clinical experience. School became her new job, and her instructors took notice.
“I don’t think I have ever worked with a student that had a better attitude and stronger work ethic,” said NWTC instructor Mary C. Wessing. “The operating room is often a stressful place to work, and Linda was able to deal with whatever came her way.”
Eis’s late-career journey mirrors that of many Americans since the start of the recession. In fact, an increasing number of Americans are returning for education later in life. Seventy-eight million baby boomers soon will be entering retirement, and four out of five plan to work past the age of 65. Many of those jobs require updated skills and training. At NWTC, 20 percent of the population served – through degree programs, certificates, basic skills courses or enrichment classes – are more than 50 years old.
When Eis graduated in May with a 4.0 grade point average, she found her hard work had paid off in other ways after being told she’d won two competitive national scholarships. The Foundation for Surgical Technology awarded her $750 for its annual scholarship, and shortly after, the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting chose her as the 2012 recipient of its $500 scholarship.
Eis is still looking toward the future. She’s interviewing for positions in the health care field and is confident that her education has prepared her for success.
“My goal from the start was to get a new job,” she said. “Losing my job [led] to much more, I earned a new profession.”
From wausaudailyherald.com: “Hundreds of jobs open in Marathon County, central Wisconsin” – People looking for work in central Wisconsin have heard the same refrain over and over: Well-paying jobs abound in the health care and advanced metalworking fields.
But for those who can’t enter one of those professions, the news isn’t great. The manufacturing, medical/education and trade/transportation/utility fields are the dominant employers, representing 66 percent of the total job force in Marathon County in 2011, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce.
The second tier of jobs, based on the number of people employed in central Wisconsin, includes the financial industry and the leisure and hospitality fields, which make up 16 percent of the jobs. The number of jobs in those two fields dropped from 2010 to 2011 in Marathon County, though hundreds of related jobs were open as of this month, according to the Department of Workforce.
The good news is that employers are hiring in those fields and training and education is available in central Wisconsin. Education and skill development can be obtained in as little as a few classes for a certificate, all the way up to a four-year degree.
And jobs are plentiful. Hundreds of jobs, including loan officers, credit counselors, wait staff, desk clerks and maintenance workers in the leisure and hospitality fields, were open for applications as of June 16 in Marathon County, and even more across all of central Wisconsin.
“You can infer from that data that there are opportunities for people to make a transition — dislocated workers or people looking for employment,” said John Westbury, an economist in the Office of Economic Advisors, a division of the DWD.
Back to school
People looking for career changes have options when looking to improve their skills or learn new ones.
Students can take introductory courses at the University of Wisconsin branches in central Wisconsin toward degrees in business administration, finance, as well as hotel, restaurant and tourism management. While many majors require students to transfer to a four-year college, the University of Wisconsin Marathon County and University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point allow students to complete the UWSP business administration program at the UWMC campus.
The UWSP partnership is an example of how some Wausau-area residents who work in the business field can continue their education without having to move, said Jim Rosenberg, an adult student recruiter at UWMC.
“Even if a person gets into a job with the minimum qualifications, they look at what can get them ahead in that career field,” Rosenberg said.
For some people, a four-year degree will take too long.
Students at Northcentral Technical College in Wisconsin can improve their skills by simply taking a few courses specializing in computer programs such as Microsoft Excel, bookkeeping, or food and beverage safety.
NTC offers an entrepreneurship program that teaches basic business concepts, such as obtaining financing, buying supplies and managing staff. Brad Gast, a continuing education adviser at NTC, said he recently had a man who wanted to open his own restaurant in northern Wisconsin take the entrepreneurship classes.
“Most of those people develop their skills and go out and start their own (business) and live their dreams,” Gast said of the entrepreneurship students.
June 25, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “For some workers, job outlook is bright” – Career outlooks are sunny for those with skills in nursing or metalworking and fabrication.
Unlike other industries still recuperating from the Great Recession, there remains a high demand for the skilled professions in Northeastern Wisconsin.
In manufacturing, a historically strong manufacturing base has been buoyed in part by large government contracts to companies such as Oshkosh Corp. and Marinette Marine. Companies in the 18 counties that make up Northeastern Wisconsin are projected to need to fill 10,000 production and manufacturing jobs by 2016, according to a 2010 survey of the region.
Meanwhile, an aging population is driving the growing need for an array of skilled health care workers. A New North survey found that numbers are expected to trend upward in health care, too, expanding by almost 4,000 jobs by 2016.
Even in a time of relatively high unemployment, manufacturing companies struggle to find enough skilled metal workers. And the need for welders is expected to increase 26 percent by 2015, according to the New North survey.
For instance, Muza Metal Products in Oshkosh, which last month completed a 47,000-square-foot plant addition, continues its growth in the metals manufacturing industry that leans heavily on Oshkosh Corp. Muza employs 260 workers over four shifts, but are still short workers.
“Skilled labor for fabrication is in high demand, especially in this area,” Muza Metal Products President Dan Hietpas said. “It’s a very competitive area, and we are still looking for 10 to 15 workers.”
The challenge is filling the night and weekend shifts at the plant that runs 24 hours a day, Hietpas said. Even paying a premium over Muza’s normal $14- to $22-per-hour wage hasn’t helped them fill the positions.
“We pay a 75 cents to $1.50 premium, depending on the shift,” Hietpas said. “That can be quite the bump in salary, but it’s still a challenge.”
In Marinette, the shipbuilding company Marinette Marine is equally hard up for skilled welders, pipefitters and electricians.
The company has added 600 jobs in the past 12 months, and now has 1,400 employees, but is struggling to fill vacancies for skilled trades jobs. It’s even having a hard time recruiting people to sign on to train and work for them. The company held open 40 spots for entry-level workers, reaching out to nine schools in the process; it landed seven graduates.
A typical employee at the shipyard can earn $30,000 to $40,000 a year.
Right now, the future looks “pretty rosy for us,” Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard said. “We can easily handle 100 or more hires out of high schools in a year.”
The welding/metal fabrication program at Fox Valley Technical College, which works with Muza Metal and Marinette Marine, has a very high job placement rate after graduation. Ninety percent of last year’s graduates found jobs. Some of the students in the program even were hired before they finished their degrees.
Though perhaps not as in demand as metal workers, Aurora Health Care can attest to the steady need to fill open positions from Milwaukee to Green Bay.
“There is always a need,” said Gwen Baumel, vice president of human resources at Aurora.
Aurora gets a lot of applicants for positions from those in the Fox Cities and Green Bay, and starts working with potential future health care workers while they are still in school.
“We have a very good relationship with the local schools, which really helps,” Baumel said. “We talk with them so the school stays in tune with employers and what sort of challenges there are.”
Back at FVTC, students in the nursing program find a hot job market upon graduation. The college graduates about 40 associated degree nurses and 25 licensed practical nurses per semester and roughly 800 nursing assistants per year.
The majority of graduates find work quickly. According to Assistant Dean of Health Division Carrie Thompson, all of the college’s 2011 associated degree graduates were working within six months of graduation. Ninety-three percent of new LPNs were hired within six months of graduation, and nursing assistants placed at 69 percent.
“They are everywhere and in lots of different companies, most of which are in the area,” Thompson said of the graduates.
June 22, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “N.E.W. Community Clinic aims to double number of patients” – The N.E.W. Community Clinic plans to use a new federal grant to provide additional medical and dental care to thousands of low-income residents, helping them avoid costly trips to local emergency rooms.
Federal health officials visited the clinic’s Northeast Wisconsin Technical College site on Thursday to announce a $903,333 expansion grant for the nonprofit facility, which serves individuals and families who are uninsured or underinsured. The funds will allow the clinic to double the number of patients it serves, officials said.
The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act, 2010′s federal health care reform. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected soon to rule on the law’s constitutionality. However, officials say funding already is earmarked for community clinics and does not depend on the court’s decision.
The N.E.W. Community Clinic’s NWTC site serves 3,500 to 4,000 medical patients a year and 14 dental patients each day five days a week, according to Bonnie Kuhr, CEO and administrator of the clinic. The clinic will use federal funding to help increase the number of those patients, as well as begin to provide behavioral services, she said.
Federal funding will be used to hire additional staff, including a nurse practitioner, and to expand dental services, Kuhr said. The clinic has a waiting list for dental services. For medical services, the clinic books appointments 24 hours in advance — it takes calls at 7:45 a.m. for the following day and usually is booked within half an hour, Kuhr said.
Clinics across the country have those needs, a federal official said.
Nearly 50 million Americans were uninsured in 2010, and someone dies about every 30 minutes in the U.S. because of lack of health insurance, said Kenneth Munson regional director for the federal Health and Human Services Department, who was on hand for the announcement.
“There is a critical need in this country for these kinds of clinics,” he said. “Clinics like this really go far in helping people and in helping communities.”
NWTC President Jeff Rafn said people who use the clinic may not fit public perception.
“Sometimes we think people who get these services are unemployed or made bad decisions,” he said. “But one of our first patients was a farmer who worked hard, but had a hard time making ends meet and didn’t have insurance.”
State clinics in Green Bay, Sheboygan and Marshfield will receive a total $2.2 million from the federal government with $128.6 million going to 219 health center programs nationwide. N.E.W. Community Clinic’s main facility is located on Bodart Street on Green Bay’s east side. A third site, Outreach Health Care, is located on Mather Street.
Kuhr said people who need dental or medical services may make an $800 to $900 trip to the emergency room if they don’t have insurance or are underinsured.
N.E.W. Community Clinic is a cost-effective alternative, she said, noting St. Vincent, St. Mary’s and Bellin hospitals provide ongoing financial support. Aurora BayCare Medical Center provides a pediatrician at a clinic at Nicolet Elementary School in Green Bay, she said.
Kuhr said she expects the clinic will remain busy as the U.S. economy continues to recover.
“We have so many uninsured people because of the economy,” she said. “We don’t have enough capacity to help everyone. The grant will be extremely useful.”
June 12, 2012
From lacrossetribune.com: “La Crosse high school grads heading into health care” – Logan and Central high school graduates hope to make it in medicine now that they’re done with high school.
Health care careers were the most coveted by 2012 La Crosse School District graduates, according to a district survey.
High school graduation is often only the first step on the long road to medical work, but many La Crosse students plan to embark on the journey. Fifty-eight of the district’s 334 graduates marked “health science” as their eventual career, outnumbering students who selected any other option on the survey, including “undecided.”
“I think the kids are smart,” said Annette O’Hern, director of the district’s Health Science Academy. “They see that our society is aging. It’s got to be a pretty secure job.”
This is not the first time La Crosse district students favored health sciences careers over the alternatives.
The field was also a favorite of 2011 and 2010 graduates. In three years, the district produced more than 150 students set on medicine.
It’s such a popular pick, the district opened the Health Science Academy three years ago to give future nurses, doctors and lab technicians a place to learn the ropes.
Work variety, job security and the proximity of two local hospitals help make health sciences so popular with students, O’Hern said.
Admission to the district’s academy is competitive, and about 20 applicants for next year’s classes will be turned away, O’Hern said.
Those who make it in — 54 juniors and seniors for next year — spend the first three hours of each school day at the Health Science Center, taking classes on subjects such as medical terminology, medical technology and health occupations.
Students can job shadow, tour medical facilities and earn college credit because of partnerships with Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse, Gundersen Lutheran, Viterbo University, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and Western Technical College.
“The kids really get out and get a hands-on feel for the environment,” O’Hern said.
Least popular careers listed on the 2012 graduate survey included architecture and construction, finance, and hospitality and tourism.
In addition to health sciences, students gravitated to careers in engineering and communications. About 16 percent are still undecided, though 79 percent of all of the district’s graduates plan to attend either a university or technical college.
School resources like the Health Science Academy help students take the next step, O’Hern said.
“We need to really take a look at helping students make educated decisions now, as they’re going forward in their careers,” she said. “It’s not just about graduating high school.”
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “Community Memorial Hospital honors Meyer with Values Award” – Community Memorial Hospital named Stephanie Meyer as the recipient of its Living Our Values award.
Meyer was nominated by her co-workers who say she believes in and applies the CMH core values of trust, care, respect, quality and community in everything she does.
“Stephanie’s dedication to our mission, vision, and values has earned her this recognition,” said Dan DeGroot, Community Memorial Hospital CEO.
As a registered nurse in CMH Surgical Services, Meyer cares for patients before, during and after surgery.
In addition to caring for patients in the operating room, she coordinates pre-surgical visits for patients who need lab, X-ray or physical therapy, and Meyer consults patients on how to prepare for their procedure and helps them plan for their at-home post-op care.
Meyer earned an associate degree from Northcentral Technical College in Wausau in 2004 and a bachelor of science in nursing from UW-Green Bay in 2007. She has been with Community Memorial Hospital since 2007.
“I realize how important it is to treat families and patients with respect and concern,” Meyer said. “I want patients and families to feel comfortable and know we will take the best possible care of them.”
Meyer lives in Coleman with her husband, Lucas, and sons Alexander, 3, and Beckett, 6 months.
Meyer is the daughter of Jennifer and the late Robert Forrest of Suring and of the late Keith Gruber of Coleman.
April 12, 2012
From wsaw.com: “Students plan for their futures at NTC’s 8th Grade Career Fair” – Middle school students are already planning for what they want to be when they grow up. At North Central Technical College, 8th graders brought their questions to the professionals for the tenth annual career fair.
“Is there anything out of school that you would recommend someone doing?” Horace Mann student Jordan Burton asked a firefighter.
Burton and her peers may still have braces but they’re already thinking about their post high school and college plans.
“This year in 8th grade we did this thing called the career unit where we looked at a bunch of jobs that we might want to do,” Burton said. “And I was looking at the top 25 jobs.”
At the top of the 25 Best Jobs of 2012 list from the U.S. News and World Report, are health-related and IT careers. In central Wisconsin, fair organizers say despite the recent layoffs in the paper industry, other kinds of manufacturing jobs are still in high demand.
“We really need to see this younger workforce coming up, know that there’s a lot of good careers in manufacturing still, and they’re also high-skilled education careers,” said Dan Nowak, the dean of NTC’s K-12 Programs.
More than 60 different vendors from 16 fields set up tables to give students an idea of what they could be doing someday.
“It’s actually pretty cool because it’s like a once in a lifetime [opportunity] where you have a chance to talk with them and meet with them,” Horace Mann student Jason Xiong said.
For those who already have a firm grasp on what they want to do, the event gives them the motivation they need to pursue those goals.
“I was really interested in the health fields,” Burton said. “It just makes we want to work harder and do the best that I can.”
March 16, 2012
From newrichmond-news.com: “WITC students bring health to campus” – Medical assistant and nursing students who plan to graduate this spring from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond campus will demonstrate their knowledge at a Health Fair on Wednesday, March 28, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is welcome to attend.
Students and a variety of community agencies will offer health information, including some screenings such as vision, hearing, lung capacity and blood pressure. (Tests for cholesterol and blood sugar levels are available only to WITC students.)
Nursing students will provide information about health topics, such as organ donation, immunizations, alternative health care options, and how to tell the difference between cold and flu symptoms.
Participating agencies from outside WITC include The Centre, Red Cross, Vitality Initiative, AKF Martial Arts, St. Croix County Public Health and others.
Last year’s follow-up survey from the event indicated the majority of people who attended the event ranked it very good to excellent.
Questions about the 2012 WITC Health Fair should go to Sara Yaron, RN, at WITC-New Richmond, at 715-246-6561, ext. 4259.
WITC serves the educational and career needs of more than 25,000 residents of Northwestern Wisconsin each year. With multiple campuses, WITC offers career-focused associate degree programs, technical diplomas, short-term certificates, customized training, and a wide array of courses for personal or career enrichment.
March 5, 2012
From riverfallsjournal.com: “CVTC student carries on family tradition” – As she walks the halls of Chippewa Valley Technical College’s River Falls campus, 500 S. Wasson Lane, Haylee Sommer knows she is walking in the steps of her mother and sister.
In her first semester at CVTC, Sommer is carrying on a family tradition that began with her mother, Rita Fosterling, who graduated from the nursing program in 2005, was carried on by her sister, Abby Chapeau, a 2007 grad, and now has been passed on to her.
“There’s definitely been some family connections here,” says Renee Christensen, a River Falls nursing instructor who can recall one other mother-daughter pairing, three sister acts, and a few sets of cousins who have come through the nursing program in the 10 years CVTC has offered it at its River Falls campus.
For most of their primary and secondary school years, Haylee, 22, Abby, 27, and their siblings were homeschooled by their mother at the family home in Hudson.
Rita, 59, says that when Haylee, the youngest of her five children, was ready to leave home, “I started wondering, what am I going to do when everybody leaves.”
Rita had earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from UW-Stevens Point in 1975 before marrying and raising her family. But when it came time to begin a new chapter in her life, she was drawn to health care, primarily due to an interest in nutrition, fitness and biology she had long shared with Haylee and Abby.
After completing the certified nursing assistant program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in New Richmond in 2003, Rita says, “I kept thinking, ‘I shouldn’t stop my education now, otherwise everything will be wasted.’ So I kept on going.”
She enrolled in the CVTC nursing program in River Falls and graduated two years later. Since then she has worked for Adoray Homecare and Hospice in Baldwin.
Rita’s final semester in the CVTC nursing program in River Falls was Abby’s first.
Abby had already completed a year at the Philadelphia Biblical University and a year of pre-nursing studies at Winona State University before coming to CVTC.
“I was just shocked at how much less expensive it was to get an education here,” she says. “I think there is this misconception that a state university has much higher standards than a technical college, and maybe in some areas there are. But I think the nursing education I received at CVTC was as good as I could have gotten anywhere else — maybe better.”
Abby, now married and raising two children of her own, is a part-time R.N. for Edelweiss Home Healthcare, based in Maple Grove, Minn.
Like her mother and sister, Haylee began her college education elsewhere before settling on CVTC as the place to earn her nursing degree. She attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls for a year and took some classes at Century College in White Bear Lake, Minn.
Haylee initially considered pursuing a degree in physical therapy or occupational therapy before deciding to carry on the family’s nursing tradition. Perhaps not surprisingly, that decision came with some gentle familial prodding.
“We kept advising her to go into nursing,” Abby admits. “We told her it’s the most versatile health care degree to have.”
Eventually, Haylee came to that decision on her own. But, she adds, “Mom’s and Abby’s experience at CVTC probably influenced where I was going to go to nursing school more than if I was going to nursing school.”
As she nears the halfway mark of her first semester, Haylee says she’s quite satisfied with her decision.
“I think the faculty here are really helpful and they’re really fair,” she says, adding that her family legacy hasn’t led to her being treated differently than any other student in the CVTC nursing program.
But she admits that her close relationship with her mother and sister is helpful when it comes to her studies. Rita and Abby have shared stories from their professional experience that have helped Haylee better understand the lessons from her nursing classes.
She smiles and adds, “And I got a free stethoscope.”
Haylee, who was married last June, mentions yet another familial benefit that anyone who has studied health care would appreciate. “My mom does my flash cards with me,” she says. “When my husband does them, he doesn’t even know how to say the words.”
Haylee recently began the first clinical training experience of her nursing program at The Lutheran Home, a skilled nursing facility in River Falls. There she provides long-term care for seniors.
She anticipates graduating from CVTC in December 2013 and, at this point, hopes to work as an obstetrics nurse.
Her mother and sister have assured Haylee that her CVTC studies should prepare her well for any sort of nursing career.
Rita says she regularly encounters on-the-job situations that remind her of specific classes at CVTC. “I’m continually amazed at that,” she says. “I feel very well prepared in that way. CVTC prepared me as well as any nursing program could.”
Unlike in her previous college experiences, Abby found that most of her fellow students at CVTC had families to raise or jobs to hold down while pursuing their education.
“Everyone in nursing school was driven,” Abby says. “At a technical college we’re not here to party.” To which her mother nods in agreements and says, “The students (at CVTC) are so much more focused.”
As she takes on the challenge of her first semester at CVTC, Haylee is aware of the family legacy.
Rita and Abby both maintained near perfect 4.0 grade point averages at CVTC, and Abby was chosen to be the student speaker at her graduation ceremony. “It’s not because we’re super smart people, but we both studied really hard,” Abby says. “It’s not an easy program here.”
Haylee smiles and takes a deep breath. “I guess there’s a little pressure because they did it and they got good grades,” she says. “I have a name to live up to.”
March 2, 2012
From wicampuscompact.org: “Gateway students apply classroom skills in the community” – A recent video by Gateway Technical College President Bryan Albrecht highlights the impact Gateway students are having in the community. A collaboration between multiple programs at Gateway Technical College resulted in a a community wellness event where students applied what they were learning in the classroom to provide service in the community.
“Participating in Gateway’s recent wellness event showed me once again why Gateway students make me proud. You achieve high academic success while volunteering and supporting community organizations. You learn to improve yourself and utilize what you’ve learned to improve your community. As a Gateway student, we value your community involvement and have confidence in your ability to build a brighter future for all of us.”
- President, Bryan Albrecht, Gateway Technical College
February 14, 2012
From greenbaypressgazette.com: “$8B Community College to Career Fund proposed” – President Barack Obama called on Congress Monday to create an $8 billion fund to train community college students for high-growth industries, giving a financial incentive to schools whose graduates are getting jobs.
The fund was part of Obama’s proposed budget for 2013. The overall package aims to achieve $4 trillion in deficit reduction over the next decade while boosting spending in some areas, including education.
Obama warned Congress that blocking investments in education and other proposals in his budget would be standing in the way of “America’s comeback.”
“By reducing our deficit in the long term, what that allows us to do is to invest in the things that will help grow our economy right now,” Obama said during remarks at Northern Virginia Community College.
The White House says the Community College to Career Fund would train 2 million workers for jobs in potential growth areas such as electronic medical records and cyber security within sectors such as health care, transportation and advanced manufacturing.
In Green Bay, Northeast Wisconsin Technical College already works closely with local businesses to train workers in high-demand fields, college President Jeff Rafn said Monday.
“I think as a tech school, and really the Wisconsin technical college system, we’re somewhat ahead of the curve compared with other community colleges that may have more of a liberal arts focus,” Rafn said. “But I’m really pleased that the president is once again identifying the need to train our work force and the role community colleges and tech colleges can play, and that he’s indicated a willingness to invest in that.”
It’s too early to know how the president’s call might specifically affect NWTC, Rafn said.
A key component of the community college plan would institute “pay for performance” in job training, meaning there would be financial incentives to ensure that trainees find permanent jobs — particularly for programs that place individuals facing the greatest hurdles getting work. It also would promote training of entrepreneurs, provide grants for state and local government to recruit companies and support paid internships for low-income community college students.
Rafn worries that as a technical college, NWTC already may have in place initiatives the president might push.
“How does this help us, or are we already that farther ahead along? At this point, I just don’t know,” he said. “If he’s talking about programming with local businesses, we already have a lot. But I’m very pleased he’s trying, and I will always fight for our fair share.”
Obama said community colleges needs resources to become community career centers where students can learn skills that local businesses need immediately.
January 4, 2012
From superiortelegram.com: “CEP awarded EMT recruitment grant for Ashland, Bayfield counties” – Wisconsin Office of Rural Health’s Rural Communities Initiatives program manager, Kevin Jacobson, congratulated Northwest Wisconsin Concentrated Employment Program Inc. (CEP) on receiving an $11,888 grant.
The grant will help partners in recruitment, training, and retention of emergency medical technicians. The grant focuses on providing resources to health care and community organizations in order to bring the highest quality of health care to rural and underserved populations.
The Bayfield and Ashland counties EMS Partnership includes Memorial Medical Center, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College and CEP. This partnership was established to increase awareness of the need for EMTs. Implementation of the grant will provide funding for development of marketing materials, two recruitment events and the training of new EMTs.
“EMTs provide a vital role in our rural area,” said Bradford Gingras, chief operating officer of CEP. “In a region as spread out as ours, it is important to have and attract members from our community who are willing to donate their time and services to others.”
Recruitment events will take place in the spring. After a pool of potential EMTs has been created, CEP will complete an initial screening process with further screening and final determination completed by EMS providers.
The goal of this project is to have 18 individuals start training in the fall. In addition to training new EMTs, the project hopes to continually recruit new EMTs from the developed marketing materials.
For information, contact Marcia Pratt at (715) 682-9141 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 16, 2011
From bizjournals.com: “MATC launches degree emphasizing business side of health care” – Milwaukee Area Technical College is launching a health care degree program to meet the growing demands of providers who have asked for employees who can simultaneously serve the clinical and the business side of the operation.
The health care services management associate degree will be a combination of business and health care classes that MATC instructors believe will make graduates more marketable in the health care field.
The idea for the degree came from a $42,000 planning grant from the Wisconsin Technical College System and a survey of area health care executives.
November 21, 2011
From westerntc.edu: “Western receives piece of $12.69 million jobs training grant” — Western Technical College will be able to give extra guidance to dislocated workers transitioning into healthcare programs, thanks to money from a recent federal grant. The three-year $12.69 million grant was awarded to a consortium of seven colleges in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, including Western and two other Wisconsin Technical Colleges.
Western’s $2.1 million share of the “Bridges2Healthcare” grant will be used to create pathways and bridges for student success as they enter the healthcare field. The college hopes that redesigned student services and developmental education made possible by the funds will lead to better retention and achievement rates.
Some of Western’s specific goals include expanding classroom access within several healthcare career paths, designing a new instructional model for Anatomy and Physiology, and providing more intensive advising, tutoring, and intervention efforts. By September 2014, Western plans to increase the number of certificate and degree holders in areas of Personal Care Workers, Nursing Assistants, Central Service Technicians, Surgical Technologists, Human Service Associates, and Medication Aides.
“These new initiatives wouldn’t be possible without this grant,” said Lee Rasch, Western president. “The funds will allow the college to provide needed training that will open doors into good paying careers in healthcare. Ultimately our entire region will benefit.”
August 18, 2011
From Northcentral Technical College: “NTC Alumni Association Holds Event for Health Care Professionals” – (Wausau, WI) – The Northcentral Technical (NTC) College Alumni Association is pleased to offer a special evening conference for health care professionals. Emerging Trends in Health Care is special evening conference on Tuesday, September 6, 2011, from 4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the NTC Center for Health Sciences.
David Zach, Futurist, will present “Future Trends that Will Greatly Impact Health Care”. Dave is one of the few professionally trained futurists on this planet, having earned a master’s degree in Studies of the Future from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. As a futurist, Dave has worked with over 1300 associations, corporations and colleges offering insights on the personal and professional impact of strategic trends. In other words, he gives funny and thought-provoking talks about the future of technology, health, economics, business, education, demographics and society. Be prepared to think hard, laugh and be entertained!
Phyllis Frase, Motivational Speaker, will present “Taking Care of Yourself as a Health Care Provider”. Phyllis has worked in the health care profession for 18 years, inspiring and leading others to be all they can! She understands the stress, fatigue and burnout that can occur in the field and seeks ways to help others maintain their physical and emotional health when taking care of others. Phyllis is known to make people laugh and cry while challenging them to improve their lives!