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

Tomah Health Working Through Workforce Challenges

The head of hiring at Tomah Health says workforce issues continue to be a challenge. “Not a lot has changed from the year before,” said hospital Human Resources director Brenda Reinert. “We are facing similar recruitment challenges for physical therapists and advanced practice providers.”

Reinert said one difference from 2022 is an increase need for registered nurses. “We have always been able to rely on our ‘grow your own’ program where current employees attending nursing school move up through the ranks. While we currently have staff in this program, our open positions currently exceed what we can fill internally,” explained Reinert. She said the RN shortage is new and challenging for the hospital.

Reinert made the comments in light of the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s 2023 Wisconsin Health Care Workforce Report, which highlighted the impact of a nursing shortage that arrived in Wisconsin for the first time since the early 2000s. The reported noted that registered nurses continue to comprise more than half of the hospital workforce, adding that the size of the nursing workforce, the many roles nurses fill and the ability of nurses to bridge other workforce gaps makes a nursing shortage disproportionately impactful on hospitals and health care.

Increasing pressure on the state’s health care workforce driven by retirements and coupled with a demand for health care by an aging population —a trend referred to as the “Silver Tsunami”—has long been cited in WHA’s Health Care Workforce Report as a cause for concern as the state seeks to maximize worker availability, longevity and success within the industry. “COVID created burnout and fatigue that is occurring with staff across all sections of health care, not just registered nurses,” said Reinert. “I am also seeing more desire for a work / life balance with staff. They have realized what is important to them in their lives, and while work is very important; their home life and extra-curricular activities are very important too.”

The WHA report said the combination of the Silver Tsunami and a persistent pandemic that created increased hiring gaps in 17 of 17 professions tracked in the workforce report, with four positions registering double-digit vacancy rates. Increases in vacancy rates were especially sharp in nursing and frontline technical positions, such as respiratory therapists, surgical technicians and lab technologists.

WHA Senior Vice President Workforce and Clinical Practice Ann Zenk said while Wisconsin’s health care workforce is proud to provide top-quality care for Wisconsin and is a safety net for the communities they serve; the hospital safety net is being stretched increasingly thin. “As hospital financial pressures rise, workforce challenges increase, and long-term care and public health increasingly struggle to meet their obligations,” said Zenk. “It is clear hospitals cannot continue to assume the health care, long-term care and public health mantle for the state on an ongoing basis without additional resources and support.”

To read the full WHA Workfroce report, CLICK HERE

Reinert said Tomah Health is looking at ‘what is necessary’ to have an engaged workforce. “Administratively, we are looking to create ways to satisfy some of the things that applicants are looking for whether it’s that work / life balance, a different structure to a schedule or maybe different types of benefits that were not important two or three years ago,” added Reinert. “We are always looking at what are we doing for our employees to create that happy and engaged workforce which will deliver the top-notch care that we’ve been known for.”  Tomah Health employes just over 425.

For job openings and to apply online, CLICK HERE


Tomah Health