Local colleges examine trends in nursing program enrollment during pandemic

Local News

BELLEVUE, Wis. (WFRV) – If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s taught us how important doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are to this country.

One of those future healthcare heroes is Jennifer Deau who is pursuing a nursing degree at Bellin Health in Bellevue.

“Stick with it because you are changing people’s lives no matter what,” said Deau.

She is all set to graduate in May and says watching the healthcare community’s response to the pandemic has motivated her.

“Seeing it from a healthcare perspective I appreciate it a lot more after being in this program and seeing what the pandemic has done on that side of it rather than just the community standpoint,” explained Deau.

Officials at Bellin College say healthcare jobs are in high demand right now. Part of the problem is that the median age for healthcare workers is already high meaning the workforce is either retiring or getting ready to retire. Pandemic burnout from stress is also a big factor.

“Listen you’re the cavalry you’re the ones coming in and you’re going to get a job and need to hit the ground running,” said Matt Rentmeester, who is the Vice President of Admissions and Marketing for Bellin College.

Rentmeester says applications at Bellin College have increased by about 4% this year compared to prior to the pandemic and that applications are up 14% this school year compared to the last one.

Over at Fox Valley Technical College, officials there say they have seen a 12% increase in enrollment in their nursing program this year compared to last. The school has adjusted its program, adding more instructors, equipment, and clinical opportunities for students.

With an increase in job openings across the healthcare industry right now, FVTC officials say it was important to increase the capacity of their program so they can bring in more students.

While FVTC’s nursing program is seeing increases in enrollment, other programs are trending in the opposite direction.

“Medical assistants and nursing assistants, these are a couple areas that are going to be huge support for the physicians and the nurses where we have still seen capacity be available in our programs,” said Dr. Jennifer Lanter, who is the Interim Chief Academic Officer at Fox Valley Technical College.

Both Rentmeester and Lanter say they have been pleasantly surprised with the interest in their programs throughout the pandemic. 

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