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Fond du Lac collaboration leads to state grant for Agnesian HealthCare training
July 21, 2014

Nursing clinical informatics is a rapidly growing field at Agnesian HealthCare, as well as healthcare providers across the nation. As part of their role, they design and implement electronic medical records tools so that the organization can effectively and efficiently document, diagnose and plan patient care.

In fact, the field is growing so rapidly that it has become increasingly difficult to appropriately train nurses that are looking to expand their skill sets.

“In an age where wellness and planning of care are so important, it is vital that providers have data readily available to help deliver the most effective care to their patients,” says Tammy Pitts, Agnesian HealthCare director of Human Resources. “Nursing clinical informatics associates are behind the scenes developing the tools used through our electronic medical records to give ready access to a wealth of patient information.”

To help with this training opportunity, Agnesian HealthCare has partnered with the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, Marian University and Moraine Park Technical College to submit, and successfully receive, a matching grant to offer a continuous 12-week training program for nursing clinical informatics associates.

Agnesian HealthCare has been awarded a $38,041 Wisconsin Fast Forward Worker Training Grant through the Office of Skills Development at the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

While Agnesian HealthCare associates currently serving in these positions will benefit directly from the training, it will open up opportunities for similar positions at other healthcare organizations.

“It really is a win-win situation for our associates, the healthcare industry in Wisconsin and ultimately our patients,” Pitts says. “The nursing clinical informatics team works diligently behind the scenes to give excellent care. We knew we had the talent from within Agnesian HealthCare that we could continue to develop, but also knew the existing training gap made it difficult to find experienced people from outside.”

The grant will span two years and help managing staffing resources while accommodating training needs.

Instructors from Marian University and Moraine Park Technical College will lead the classes.

“This grant provides the opportunity to more effectively educate and transition nurses to the nurse informaticists role,” says Julie Luetschwager, PhD, RN, associate vice president of Academic Affairs & director of Institutional Effectiveness, director of Nursing at Marian University. “With the growth and rapid changes in information technology in the healthcare arena, it has become a critical role in the field of information technology to enhance the quality and safety of patient care.”

Luetschwager says the grant meets Marian University’s commitment to transform lives for professional service and leadership. 

“We value community and look for opportunities where we can assist community businesses, in partnerships such as this, to further the growth and development of their employees,” she says. “As a result of the partnership among Agnesian HealthCare, Marian University and Moraine Park Technical College, Agnesian HealthCare associates will now have a solid educational foundation created through the educational partnership, which will enhance associates’ success in their transition to the role of nurse informaticist.”

Jo Ann Hall, dean of Economic and Workforce Development with Moraine Park Technical College, agrees that the grant represents a community collaboration to develop the talent needed to help area organizations thrive.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for several institutions to come together to enhance the skills of the area workforce – while improving service and care for area citizens. This training program is a strong representation of Moraine Park’s mission and goals to provide innovative education for an evolving workforce and community through a strengthening of our community connections. Moraine Park works regularly with area companies on these customized employee training initiatives, and is proud to be working with Agnesian HealthCare on this effort.”

Agnesian HealthCare’s grant application was bolstered with help from the Fox Valley Workforce Development Board, Inc.

“We are pleased to have been part of the team that assisted Agnesian HealthCare in their successful grant application,” says Paul Stelter, chief executive officer. “We are excited about this endeavor because of the opportunity it provides to upgrade skills of current employees and to train new employees. We have been assisting other businesses in their efforts to tap into Wisconsin’s new Fast Forward training program, and we are very proud to have been involved with one of the first training grants of this kind in the state that targets healthcare careers.”

The Department of Workforce Development Secretary (DWD) recently awarded 16 applicants $908,529 in worker training grants through the Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) initiative. The grant awardees cover 33 employers representing 16 Wisconsin counties and will train approximately 1,829 workers in information technology, health care and small businesses with 50 or fewer workers.

This announcement culminates the second round of Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training grants totaling $3.4 million to train workers in manufacturing, construction, information technology, financial services, healthcare, small business and transportation.

Governor Scott Walker proposed the Wisconsin Fast Forward grant program in early 2013. Both houses of the legislature approved the bill with significant bipartisan majorities. A total of $15 million was appropriated to fund flexible, demand-driven training for companies that have identified a specific workforce need. Employers can partner with other businesses, as well as training providers, workforce development boards, economic development organizations, technical colleges and others.

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