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Senators Note Role of Community Colleges in Preparing Health Care Workers – Community College Daily

Community colleges were not represented in a Senate hearing Thursday on the shortage of health care workers, but they were still in the shuffle of conversation.

At the Senate Health, Education, Occupational and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing, Senator Roger “Doc” Marshall (R-Kansas) said he wanted to take a closer look at the role of community colleges in preparation of health professionals, especially nurses.

“Eighty percent of health care jobs could be done with community college nurses,” said Marshall, a graduate physician at Butler County Community College, Pennsylvania.

He noted that, particularly in rural areas, residents go to their local community college for affordable job training, and are more likely to stay in those communities, as opposed to students who attend a university elsewhere and are often not they come home. city.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), a physician who taught at Louisiana State University Medical School, said he “endorsed” Marshall’s comment that community college graduates usually stay in their communities. He also noted that community college programs are less expensive and have a shorter pipeline to help fill desperately needed nurses. He added that there is a “clear bias towards BSNs” (nursing degrees), noting that he himself worked for 30 years with a certified nurse who was “fantastic”.

The HELP committee – which heard from one health system’s witnesses Dartmouth College, the University of New England, Meharry Medical College and the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing – also explored diversity in the health workforce, better data on that workforce (especially after the Covid pandemic) and service in rural areas.

A nascent partnership

A representative from Ochsner Health of Louisiana outlined before the committee its workforce development efforts, which include a significant partnership with Delgado Community College (DCC), the largest educator of nurses and allied health professionals in the state.

In 2021, Ochsner Health partnered with DCC to train the next generation of nurses and allied health professionals, forming the Ochsner Center for Nursing and Allied Health, said Leonardo Seoane, Ochsner academic director. Healthcare System’s $20 Million Investment in Center Covers Full-Time Tuition for Ochsner Employees Pursuing a Nursing or Related Certificate or Degree at Delgado and Matching Funds for a New State-of-the-Art Facility on its City Park Campus .

Also in 2021, Ochsner, DCC and the Louisiana Department of Education began a nursing pre-apprenticeship program that offers high school sophomores and community college students the opportunity to train as nurses. The program, which serves more than 350 students, will soon expand to other counties and aims to serve more than 600 students over the next two years, Seoane said.

“We’re early on in the program, Senator, but we’re very excited about it,” Seoane said in response to a question from Senator John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) about apprenticeships in healthcare.

Ochsner has also partnered with DCC, Northshore Technical Community College, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System to offer tuition-free registered apprenticeships to Ochsner’s physician assistants. There are plans to expand the program to other parts of the state.

GRAD Act reintroduced

Also on Thursday, HELP committee members Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) and Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) reintroduced a bipartisan bill to more accurately measure student success at community colleges.

The Higher Education Act requires the US Department of Education to report institution graduation rates for full-time and first-time students, excluding part-time and other non-traditional students. The Graduation Reporting for Accuracy and Decision-Making Act (GRAD), which is supported by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), aims to address this issue.

“Schools like Snow College and Salt Lake Community College have students enrolled from all walks of life — from the first in their family to go to college, to veterans, to single parents,” Romney said in a statement. “Current reporting requirements do not reflect the unique composition of community college students, and each year students who receive degrees are classified as ‘dropouts’ by the federal government. Our bill will address this issue and ensure that government more accurately measures success in community colleges in Utah and across the country. I hope this Congress can bring the GRAD Act to the finish line.”

AACC President and Chief Executive Officer Walter Bumphus said the GRAD Act reflects metrics from the voluntary community college accountability framework, which hundreds of institutions use to promote public accountability and institutional improvement.

“Higher education would be well served by the enactment of this legislation,” he said.

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