Partnering to Expand Nursing Pipeline

SCC, Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center enter $10 million partnership to fund initiatives to tackle nursing shortage

This spring, Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center and SCC announced a partnership focused on expanding SCC’s nursing program to help meet the critical need for nurses. The hospital has pledged up to $10 million over five years to fund the partnership’s initiatives.

Key initiatives include providing stronger support services to help nursing students succeed, adding faculty and staff to increase nursing program capacity, developing expanded nursing-prep programming for high school students, enhancing recruitment resources, and providing local employment opportunities for program graduates.

“This partnership allows us to make major upgrades to an already strong program,” said SCC President Dr. Michael Ash. “We wouldn’t be able to make such a bold investment without the hospital’s involvement.”

Ash stressed that meeting the healthcare needs of the region are critical to strong, vibrant communities – which falls in line with SCC’s mission.

“There are over 350 open nursing positions within 50 miles of SCC,” Kristi Schroeder, SCC dean of health professions and director of nursing said. “And the average wage is over $62,000. We’ll be able to help more residents prepare for great-paying jobs who will, in turn, strengthen our healthcare system and our communities at large.”

SCC’s nursing program consistently receives high marks for quality, and its students regularly outperform their peers from nursing programs across Iowa and the nation. That level of quality requires considerable effort and commitment on the part of students.

Deanna Kline works with nursing students on the Keokuk campus. [John Gaines Photography]

Schroeder explained that nursing school is not easy, and not everyone who attempts it succeeds. Every students needs help at some point; sometimes life gets in the way, and they have a tough time keeping up. Some are forced to drop out before they can finish.

“We do a good job supporting our current students, but now we’ll be able to offer even more specific support when students need it most.”

Students will have access to a dedicated nursing tutor for help with coursework and a student success advocate to guide them through the program all the way to graduation.

High school students will also get a leg up on preparing for healthcare careers. Planners are working with area high schools to offer more health career exploration opportunities and pre-nursing college class delivery at the high school level.

“This gives high schoolers who want to enter nursing up to a year’s head start,” added Michelle Brown, director of high school relations. “And it can save families a lot of money, too.”

Nursing program graduates will have preferred status when applying for positions at Southeast Iowa Regional Hospital campuses in Fort Madison and West Burlington, and Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant.

Visit to learn more information about SCC’s nursing and health career programs.

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