UW Health unveils nurse apprenticeship program

UW Health has developed one of the nation's first registered nurse apprenticeship programs to expand Wisconsin's pipeline of future nurses, the health system said April 20.

The system is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and Madison College on the four-year program. Through the apprenticeship, students will complete two years of prerequisite coursework and two years of core nursing courses overseen by Madison College's faculty to receive their associate's degree. 

Students will also work as nursing assistants at UW Health for the first two years of the program and as student nurses for the second two years. After graduation, nurses will join the health system in a nursing role, pending the results of their licensing exam. 

UW Health said it plans to hire two nurse educators who will oversee on-the-job training and clinical competency requirements for nurse apprentices. The health system will also offer financial support for tuition, books and supplies, and full-time salary and benefits for apprentices.

"By providing the resources many need to become nurses, we are breaking down barriers historically underserved populations face when pursuing careers such as nursing, and ultimately diversifying the nursing workforce, which also benefits our patients," Alan Kaplan, MD, CEO of UW Health, said in a news release. 

The application and testing process for the first nurse apprenticeship cohort is launching this spring, and UW Health plans to accept 16 current employees. Future cohorts will include new employees, the system said.  

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