Tuition Credit Initiative Bolsters Wisconsin’s Health Care Workforce During COVID-19 Surge

Official Press Release from the Wisconsin Partnership Program

A tuition credit will strengthen Wisconsin’s health care workforce by incentivizing nursing students at UW System schools to help staff hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and health care facilities in the state during the recent COVID-19 surge and its aftermath.

The initiative is funded through a $500,000 COVID-19 Response Grant from the UW School of Medicine and Public Health’s Wisconsin Partnership Program and is led by the UW–Madison School of Nursing.

This grant expands the COVID-19 student health care worker initiative previously announced by UW System in December 2021 to help address widespread health care staffing challenges in the state as the omicron variant threatened to overwhelm Wisconsin’s health care systems. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services provided the initial $500,000 toward the incentive program. Now, with a combined $1 million in funding, up to 2,000 UW nursing students will be eligible for a $500 tuition credit during the spring semester for working in hospitals and other health care settings between December 1, 2021 and March 20, 2022.

“Throughout the pandemic, hundreds of UW students have gained valuable experience working in health care settings while also earning a tuition credit. It’s another example of the Wisconsin Idea,” said UW System President Tommy Thompson. “I appreciate the Wisconsin Partnership Program’s commitment to this important program.”

“The UW–Madison and UW System nursing schools already contribute significantly to the development of health care workers in our state,” UW–Madison School of Nursing Dean Linda D. Scott, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FNAP, FAAN, said. “Through this collaboration, we can continue to support our health care systems and the health of Wisconsin’s residents at a time of critical need, and provide practical experience for nursing students entering the work force.”

To be eligible, students must work a minimum of 50 hours in a Wisconsin clinical or health care setting, such as a hospital, clinic, nursing home, long-term care facility, state or local health care facility or state veterans home between December 1, 2021, and March 20, 2022. Students who qualify will receive a $500 tuition refund at the end of the Spring 2022 semester.

A UW–Madison nursing student assists at a community vaccination clinic. Nursing students across UW System are assisting in responding to COVID-19 through vaccine outreach and delivery and by working in local health care settings as part of a tuition incentive program.

Students are already stepping up to support their communities and gain valuable experience.

“I had a very positive experience,” said Olivia Piccione, a nursing major at UW-Parkside. “Not only was I able to gain valuable volunteer opportunities, but I was also supported in my education with tuition reimbursement. This was such a great opportunity for myself as I knew I would not only be supported financially but also in my personal development and career skills. I am very appreciative of my experience with this program.”

“The Wisconsin Partnership Program, which was created at the SMPH to improve the health of the people of Wisconsin, is pleased to support this collaboration with the UW System and our partners at the UW–Madison School of Nursing,” said Amy Kind, MD, PhD, SMPH Associate Dean for Social Health Sciences and Programs and executive director of the Wisconsin Partnership Program. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to create unprecedented challenges for hospitals, nursing homes and other health care settings and for the dedicated staff who keep these systems operational. This new Wisconsin Partnership Program funding moves forward at a key time to address health care staffing concerns within all corners of Wisconsin to better the lives of all. ”

Interested students can connect with employers via Handshake, an online job listing system, and should reach out directly to their nursing programs with additional questions.