A state bill aims to create a pilot program that would allow administrators-in-training to work for two years while pursuing their formal certification. The program would further reimburse nursing homes for up to $40,000 of salary over that period. 

The bill, which was advanced through committee to consideration by the full Iowa Senate at the end of January, would be a step toward addressing the high rates of administrator turnover that have plagued the nation’s care facilities — harming operational efficiency and driving down profit margins

“The ultimate goal is to get more high-quality individuals into the long-term care workforce across the state of Iowa,” said Brandon Hagen, senior vice president and policy advisor at the Iowa Health Care Association. “While the need for workforce is everywhere, rural Iowa has the most difficult time filling open nursing home administrator positions. Recent data has shown an increase in administrator turnover and the appearance of fewer entrants into the profession.” 

To be considered, applying administrators-in-training would have to have received an offer of employment from a nursing home with a quality rating of 3 stars or above. If accepted, they would be supervised by another administrator for the duration of the two-year program.

The Iowa Department of Inspections, Appeals & Licensing would be required to create the pilot program and open it to up to 10 applicants in the program’s first year. The state would provide a provisional license and pay 30% of participants’ first year salary and 10% of their second year salary — with a cap of $30,000 and $10,000, respectively. 

Providers pleased

State care leaders have thrown their support behind the bill. The program’s legal requirements would both address the need for facility administrators and ensure that applicants are employees of good standing being placed under the supervision of capable leaders, according to Hagen.

“Allowing the pilot program to take place in any facility that meets the requirements introduces that many more qualified workers into the workforce who can serve across the entire state, rural and urban,” he told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News Friday. “It also presents an opportunity for current facility employees to up-train and for new individuals interested in long-term care to participate.”

After completing the two-year program and having their good professional standing verified by their facility, administrators would receive a full license from the state. 

If the administrator-in-training were to be fired during the course of the program, that individual would be required to pay the state back the salary reimbursement.