Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

A new state-funded program will pair nursing students at the University of Washington with nearby long-term care facilities in an effort to address unfilled staffing positions while giving novice nurses hands-on experience. 

Long-term care providers EmpRes Healthcare and Pennant Healthcare are partners in the externship program with the UW School of Nursing. The state is funding the program through a $167,000 grant, Fox13 Seattle reported.

Connecting with an academic institution that has evidence-based practices will help Pennant in its mission to provide dignified, quality care to its residents, Mindy Schaffner, Ph.D., MSN, CNS, RN, program facilitator at Pennant, told the news outlet. 

“I think most of all nurses that work in long-term care absolutely have to understand and want to care for people whose rehabilitation for their illness may take some time,” she said.

For its part, EmpRes will pair each student with a mentor, according to director of compliance Kristin Bolos, RN. The students, who have an interest in geriatrics, will not only “learn what our culture is and what long-term care is,” but will practice their skills while helping a “very tired workforce,” she said.

The plan is to expand the externship program to other universities and long-term care facilities around the state in the near future.

U.S. nursing homes and other residential care facilities have lost about 380,000 workers since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News has reported. And the shortages are expected to get even worse, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care.

The full story can be found here.