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Majors & Degrees

Workforce development alliance is a 'win' for all

February 25, 2018

Dakota State University’s new Workforce Development Alliance (WDA) “is a win for everybody,” said Tammy Miller, CEO of Madison Regional Health System (MRHS).

The Madison health facility is the first to partner with the university on the new initiative which allows businesses to underwrite a certain portion of a student’s educational costs and provide internship opportunities during their college years. After graduation, the student commits to work for that business for a period of time.

The agreement with MRHS will provide for a DSU student to receive the pre-professional courses necessary for a nursing major, and a paid internship between their sophomore and junior years. Pending completion of an accelerated nursing program, the student will return to work at MRHS. Accelerated nursing programs allow students with a bachelor’s degree in any field to receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in about a year.

“We as a healthcare facility need to seek out opportunities to work with partners in order to assure a workforce for our future,” Miller said. The American Nurses Association notes a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projection that the country will need 1.1 million new registered nurses by 2022 to fill open positions.

“It takes resources to be able to create these partnerships,” Miller said, “but it also takes partners working with us to provide the skilled training we need for quality healthcare in the future.”

Student athletes can be excellent healthcare workers, said DSU Athletic Director Jeff Dittman. “Athletes have the characteristics that are valued in the business world,” he said. “They are detail-oriented, self-disciplined, can work on a team, and are self-motivated.”

A significant percentage of college athletes often major in nursing, Dittman said. He saw this at Hastings College in Nebraska, where he was women’s basketball coach from 2008 to 2012; Concordia College (Morehead, Minn.), reported in 2013 that about 30 percent of student athletes majored in nursing. Seeing a similar potential at DSU, Dittman worked with Miller to create the partnership with MRHS.

“This partnership with Madison Regional can help DSU sign some quality athletes who intend to work in the nursing field,” Dittman said. Now that the WDA agreement is in place, “we hope to expand the opportunity and work with a number of hospitals in the region to provide them with well-trained nurses.”

This initial WDA partnership focuses on the nursing profession, but “we want to expand this to other degree programs,” Dittman said.

Businesses will choose from a pool of eligible students, and will have the flexibility to determine the amount of compensation they will provide, up to $30,000 towards the student’s education. Students will benefit from the hands-on experience in their chosen field, help with the financial stress of college tuition, and a guaranteed job in their field after graduation.

“For the commitment we get back to our facility,” Miller said, “WDA is an excellent program for workforce development.”

This partnership will be administered through DSU’s Student Affairs/Career Services department. For more information on DSU’s WDA, email workforce@dsu.edu or contact Marcus Garstecki, vice president of Student Affairs at 605-256-5124.