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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

For-profit colleges complicate WI's nursing shortage efforts

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Tuesday, March 5, 2024   

Wisconsin faces a big staffing shortage of registered nurses. Advocates hope for key solutions to bear fruit amid unease about the emergence of for-profit nursing colleges.

The Arizona College of Nursing, a commercial institution, has been trying to gain a foothold in certain Wisconsin cities. It faces scrutiny in other states over regulatory issues and claims that it leaves too many students saddled with debt and no career pathway.

Barbara Nichols, executive director of with the Wisconsin Center for Nursing, has encouraged policymakers to keep building on efforts to help more students attend nonprofit programs to fill staffing voids. She said the trouble is those schools don't have enough instructors.

"You can make more money working as a nurse practitioner with your master's [degree] or doctorate than teaching," Nichols explained.

She hopes to see results from a Wisconsin initiative soon, which started three years ago, that offers loan forgiveness for nurses who take on teaching roles.

When speaking on broader shortage issues, leaders at Arizona College of Nursing argue the educational system should provide better support to these students while they're in school, such as mentorship programs on campus.

Despite the lack of available slots, Nichols encourages aspiring nurses to prioritize schools with an established track record. While obtaining a nursing degree does require some clinical training, she notes there is some flexibility for other required courses.

"Schools have a combination of in-person as well as online, and that's the best. So, I think you need to look for those schools that provide theory in terms of online and then make sure they have good clinical placements," she continued.

Nichols said she feels it's better to wait for an opening at a longstanding, accredited program, arguing they're better suited to provide a quality nursing education. And for students who wouldn't have trouble temporarily relocating, she's convinced it's worth it to explore programs in neighboring states.

According to her organization, Wisconsin is graduating around 3,000 nurses each year, or 2,000 short of what's needed.


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