The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Columbus Community Hospital have signed an affiliation agreement that will send more health professions students — in more health professions — to the east-central Nebraska community for training. The master affiliation agreement is similar to one the university reached this summer with Great […]
The University of Nebraska Medical Center and Columbus Community Hospital have signed an affiliation agreement that will send more health professions students — in more health professions — to the east-central Nebraska community for training.
The master affiliation agreement is similar to one the university reached this summer with Great Plains Health in North Platte, said Nicole Carritt, UNMC director of rural initiatives and assistant vice chancellor for health workforce education relations.
More will follow. UNMC, she said, is seeking new or updated agreements with health systems in Nebraska and beyond as it seeks to provide more training sites for the additional health professions students needed to help build the state’s health care workforce.
The state continues to have shortages in many disciplines, particularly in rural areas. But the university has to partner in order to accomplish the goal of alleviating them, she said.
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“We can’t do it alone,” Carritt said. “It’s a great opportunity to show we can collaborate and build the workforce.”
Students long have completed training rotations at the Columbus hospital, but the new agreement formalizes that partnership, she said. In the past, training opportunities have been arranged program by program. The new agreement covers all of UNMC’s clinical and non-clinical programs.
Not only will the new arrangement provide the opportunity for more students from more programs to gain the hands-on experience they need, it also will allow the hospital to recruit them down the road, Carritt said.
Providing enough clinical training sites long has been a pinch point in training health professionals, she said. If there aren’t enough clinical training sites in the state, students may have to train out of state — which makes it harder to recruit them back as providers. Students are more likely to practice within 100 miles of where they complete their training.
“If we want them to stay in Nebraska and practice,” she said, “we have to work with the community to do it.”
That includes providing a good experience for students at training sites so they can see themselves living and working in those communities, she said.
Columbus Community Hospital has established relationships with groups in the community, including alumni and other practitioners, to work with students to meet their needs, including housing.
Michael Hansen, the hospital’s president and CEO, said the hospital staff enjoys the many students they host every year during their rural rotations.
“By signing the master affiliation agreement for both clinical and non-clinical students,” he said in a statement, “we streamline the process and ensure that our mutual interests are perfectly aligned.”
Dr. Jeffrey Gold, UNMC’s chancellor, said strong educational experiences in the state’s communities, such as those provided at Columbus Community Hospital, are integral in growing the state’s rural health workforce.
“We are excited at the possibilities this new agreement opens up,” he said in a statement.
Carritt said UNMC has established an expectation that students complete a rural rotation as part of their education. Those experiences produce some of the most glowing evaluations the university receives from students, who may get to do more in community hospitals than they would in a more specialized setting.
Establishing the new agreements, while aimed at an immediate need, also has a strategic element, she said.
More training posts also will be needed to accommodate additional health professions students who will study at the University of Nebraska at Kearney under an expansion of a UNMC-UNK partnership and at UNMC under its proposed Project Health, which would include a new academic medical center in Omaha.
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