GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV)-Amid a nationwide shortage of nurses, providers tell Local Five News they are finding creative ways to empower the next generation of nurses.
“Today we’re here to celebrate our future nursing workforce,” said Heather Schroeder who is the Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Aurora BayCare Medical Center Bellevue.
Aurora BayCare Medical Center provided scholarships of either $2,500 or $5,000 to 10 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay nursing students. There was a ceremony to celebrate the students on Wednesday afternoon and each student had an opportunity to tell the audience why they became interested in pursuing a nursing degree.
One of the students that earned a scholarship was Joshua Willis. He said he became interested in becoming a nurse about 10 years ago when he saw how well the nurses cared for his son when he was born.
“I wanted to be the light in someone else’s darkness,” said Willis.
Willis said he enrolled in UW-Green Bay’s nursing program about 20 years after graduating high school. He said the scholarship will help him cover the commute he makes from Two Rivers to Green Bay for classes.
“It was always in the back of my mind that I needed to do something that I loved to do for the rest of my life, but it felt like I couldn’t because I had to work,” said Willis who said he works part time at Kwik Trip.
Medical professionals said that the country needs more nurses right now.
“Some of the predictions long term is that we will see more people leaving the workforce than we are having coming through the nursing programs,” said Schroeder.
Schroeder said the pandemic has impacted the nursing workforce as childcare has became harder to find some nurses had to leave the demanding career to take care of their kids. Per UW-Green Bay, it is estimated the shortage of registered nurses in Wisconsin will increase to nearly 20,000 (35 percent) by 2035.
For Willis, he said seeing the heroics of nurses during the pandemic inspired him to pursue the career.
“It (the pandemic) didn’t deter me at all from where I was going to go because I was like well they’re going to need nurses now,” said Willis.
UW-Green Bay officials tell us they have 447 students enrolled in their nursing programs this fall. The university began their BSN program in 2019 in response to the statewide shortage of nurses.
“Anytime I come across a challenging concept or class I double my efforts and strive to do the best that I can,” said Willis.