When the hallways of the new ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano come alive in the second half of 2015, Shawano-area nursing students will be part of the hustle and bustle on the healthcare campus. Dorothy Erdmann, CEO of Shawano Medical Center, and Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn, president of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, recently announced an agreement to offer Shawano’s NWTC nursing programs on site at the brand new medical center starting in fall 2015, the first such collaboration in the state of Wisconsin.
The concept of a nursing school within a small rural hospital was first championed by Erdmann, who saw an opportunity to “grow our own” nurses and allied health professionals to meet future staffing needs at ThedaCare’s new hospital which is currently under construction. At the same time, NWTC was looking to relieve space constraints at its crowded Shawano campus.
Rafn said, “These are the kind of relationships that technical colleges and employers must work hard to create. We are uniquely positioned to work together toward a common goal—to train nurses exactly where they will be needed, in a small community healthcare setting.”
A 5,000-square foot learning center is being constructed within the larger medical center to house both classroom and laboratory teaching equipment. “This is a complete collaboration between ThedaCare and the college,” said Kay Tupala, NWTC Dean of Health Sciences. “The learning center will be used by nursing students and current TCMC-Shawano staff for orientations and continuing education.” In particular, it will be equipped with a high fidelity simulator in the simulation lab and an exact replica of a ThedaCare patient room.
“It will be a very big benefit to our hospital staff to have a simulation lab on site where interdisciplinary teams of nurses, physicians, and their assistants can learn more about caring for complex patient cases,” Erdmann said. “It’s an opportunity like never before to keep our skills sharp and current, teaching and learning right here in Shawano’s own hospital.”
Nursing students will complete their first round of clinicals, or hands-on patient care, at TCMC-Shawano while in their second semester.
Currently, between 55 and 60 certified nursing assistants are trained at NWTC- Shawano each year. Ten associate’s degreed nurses and 10 practical nurses, plus students pursuing degrees in health care business services, will also start their studies on site at TCMC-Shawano this year. Tupala said the college is prepared to respond to market demand and poised to expand the number of programs available at its TCMC-Shawano site.
Erdmann said the collaboration with NWTC has the community at heart. “This is what it means to be a small community hospital that stays true to its roots. Our hope is that these student nurses will ultimately help fill vacancies at the same hospital where they learned to be nurses.”
The forthcoming ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano will replace the 81-year-old Shawano Medical Center. It is under construction adjacent to ThedaCare Physicians-Shawano at County B and State 22. The center will also house ThedaCare At Home-Shawano and ThedaCare At Work-Shawano.