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Hiring Hoosiers: WGU focuses on retaining and growing nursing workforce

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Posted at 8:38 PM, Feb 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 20:38:17-05

This last year, it has become even more apparent that healthcare workers play a vital role in our community.

“We have an acute shortage of registered nurses in Indiana. About 50% of our current workforce is going to be retiring in the next 15 years,” Mary Carney, director of prelicensure at WGU Indiana, said.

Carney is helping lead the effort at WGU Indiana to address the shortage and reduce barriers, especially in rural communities.

“They don’t have a lot to draw from whereas as in the early days of COVID, the big hospital systems they closed their clinics and there was a whole bunch of nurses they could pull in their hospital to take over the care of the influx of COVID patients. The rural areas don’t have that deep bench they don’t have that,” Carney said.

She is now in contact with nearly a dozen rural hospitals hoping to place students from the WGU nursing program into their hospitals for clinicals or their capstone project.

“I was able to get a full perspective of what kind of care we give to our patient not just from that patient care standpoint but from a nursing care standpoint,” Mahalia Prather said.

Prather lives in Thorntown and is doing her WGU nursing capstone project at Witham Hospital in Lebanon.

“It gives me a chance to give back to my community. I provide care for my neighbors and some of my coworkers are people that I grew up with,” Prather said.

Witham Hospital is the smallest hospital WGU has placed a student in for their capstone project.

“It gave them an introduction to our program and how we prepare our students, Carney said. “Moving forward, it might be an opportunity for us to place some additional students there and give an example to other rule hospitals of what we can help them with.”

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