COVID-19 vaccine: Get the latest updates on children’s doses, booster shots and more. Learn More

TH, State Tackling Workforce Shortages

Improving care coordination, accelerating the adoption of telehealth and knocking down regulatory barriers are critical to tackling health care workforce challenges facing the state, according to a recent report from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

“We know we have to build our workforce faster,” said Ann Zenk, WHA vice president of workforce and clinical practice. “But no matter how fast we grow it, we’re not going to be able to grow it fast enough. So we need to leverage team-based care and technology.”

Combined with an aging workforce, physician shortages and high vacancy rates, especially for entry-level positions, the state faces “perhaps the perfect proverbial workforce storm,” according to the report.

Tomah Health human resources director Brenda Reinert agrees with the multi task approach saying it takes a combination of strategies to tackle the situation since there is not a “one size fits all approach” to solve workforce issues.

“The challenge we have, is to look at ourselves and what can we do to attract qualified candidates, and what benefits can we provide to them to help them grow in their careers here at the hospital,” Reinert said.

She said the hospital for years has looked to fill positions from within the organization, by hiring quality certified nursing assistants (CNA’s), for example, that can grow into candidates needed for registered nurse positions.

“We’re really approaching it from a win – win situation,” explained Reinert. “It’s a win for us because we have that qualified applicant that we are growing and it’s a win for them because they are getting compensation from us for school and they are also getting really good experience to help them along in their career.”

Reinert said around 380 employees make up the TH staff, which is up about 10 – 15 staff  than last year at this time. She added that said the hospital has been experiencing “historic growth” over the past several years.

WHA’s report recommends that Wisconsin:

  • Attract entry-level workers to climb heath care career pathways to fill in-demand positions such as registered nurses, surgical technicians, and nurse anesthetists;
  • Implement strategies to more quickly grow our supply of physicians;
  • Reform state law to allow advanced practice providers (APPs) to fully use their education, training and experience to fill the physician gap; and
  • Leverage the use of technology to maintain access to health care in communities across Wisconsin.

“Like most industries, health care is grappling with labor shortages in key areas, but unlike most industries, demand for health care is largely a function of demographics rather than economic cycles,” said WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding. “Wisconsin’s over 65 population is expected to double by 2030. This means increasing demands on and for the health care workforce during a period of record unemployment and a diminishing labor force.”

The Wisconsin Hospital Association’s 2018 Wisconsin Health Care Workforce Report is available at

To Learn More About Available Job Openings at Tomah Health, CLICK HERE

Tomah Health