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A special Awake58: A spotlight on the first registered nursing apprenticeship program

A note from us

Welcome to a special edition of Awake58 focused on the release of our first EdNC case study.

The health care workforce pipeline has generated significant conversation in recent years. Health care systems have always worked hard to ensure they have a pipeline of qualified workers, and we know this has been a particular challenge in rural regions of our state, where access to care has been a challenge for decades.

I had the privilege to travel to all 100 counties in North Carolina over two years alongside Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina for their Extra Miles Tour. In many communities we visited, we heard health care leaders share stories of how the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated their workforce challenges in profound ways.

We also saw promising practices along the way — including the health care apprenticeship programs at Davidson-Davie Community College.

At EdNC, our research has taken many forms over the years. We’ve released video series such as Bright Spots. We’ve released in-depth, long form articles such as Hannah’s look at the indicators of financial health among community colleges. We’ve even traveled to other states as Liz and Katie did recently.

But the case study we released last night is different. Emily Thomas spent more than three months with the Davidson-Davie Community College team to understand the work that was necessary to launch the state’s first registered nursing apprenticeship program for adults. She dug in on the obstacles they overcame, the partners they brought to the table, and the practical results of the work, all with the goal of writing a case study you could use to replicate this program at your college.

We are proud to release this case study, and we hope you will take the time to give it a read. Emily’s feature article is here, with the case study embedded within:

Can apprenticeships mitigate nursing shortages?

We invite you to share the comprehensive case study with faculty, staff, health care partners, and local stakeholders interested in delving into the detailed process of establishing the state’s first healthcare apprenticeship program.

Thank you for reading Awake58.

We’ll see you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Chief of Growth —

PS — Emily and I will both be at myFutureNC State of Attainment events today in different parts of the state. Follow along on X @Awake58NC. Hannah will be attending the State Board of Community Colleges meeting today and tomorrow. Her story will come out next week.

EdNC reads

Can apprenticeships mitigate nursing shortages?

Why did Davidson-Davie CC and their health care partner move forward with an apprenticeship model? Emily’s article piece takes a look:

Apprenticeships are nothing new – centuries old in fact. In recent years, however, apprenticeships in North Carolina have expanded. As of Dec. 2023, ApprenticeshipNC reported over 9,100 active apprentices and nearly 1,400 active registered apprenticeship programs.

With proven success in other industries, Davidson-Davie and Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist knew a nursing apprenticeship model could be a path forward to addressing current and future nursing shortages.

Experts predict North Carolina will see nursing shortages over the next decade. By 2033, the state could face a shortage of roughly 12,500 registered nurses (RNs) and over 5,000 licensed practical nurses (LPNs).

What started as a “what if” conversation quickly led to a collaborative effort that is now considered the largest health care apprenticeship in North Carolina.

Working together with ApprenticeshipNC, Davidson-Davie and Atrium Health launched a nursing apprenticeship program that allows nursing students the opportunity to receive on-the-job training while earning a paycheck and going to school.

Emily’s feature article, with the full case study within it, is on our website.

To better understand the partnership and how the model can be replicated across the state, the case study includes detailed information about how Davidson-Davie and Atrium Health launched the apprenticeship program, stakeholders involved, funding, benefits of the program, and the results so far.

We also provide lessons learned from former and current students, Davidson-Davie staff, and Atrium Health partners and recommendations for replicating the model, some of which include:

* a split salary model for nursing faculty

* adopting a holistic approach to nursing admissions

* the importance of conducting focus groups

* iterating the program

* the need for a nursing apprenticeship liaison

* expanding to offer additional health care apprenticeships

For those who wish to replicate the model, the case study offers a quick guide to launching and sample documents employers and institutions can use to stand-up their own health care apprenticeship programs.

Please read and share

Around NC

We’ve covered a range of health care-focused announcements in recent months, including:

‘Transformative’ investment in health care workforce announced in New Hanover County

In a significant move to address critical health care workforce challenges in New Hanover County, the New Hanover Community Endowment (NHCE) has awarded over $22.3 million in grants to several key educational institutions in their region.

New early college opening in NC to combat health care shortage

Duke University Health System, Durham Technical Community College, and Durham Public Schools (DPS) announced plans Wednesday to establish an early college for high school students in the district who are interested in health care careers.

$29.5 million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies is funding the project. The program is intended to be a direct pathway to careers in Duke Health facilities and to provide another option to students besides the four-year college route.

A rural hospital and community college team up to tackle health care shortages

Wayne Community College is getting a new clinical nursing instructor thanks to a partnership with UNC Health Wayne. The local hospital will be paying for the salary and benefits of one clinical nursing instructor for the college for a five year period. The college hopes this partnership will help address two challenges with one program — bolstering enrollment and addressing the nursing shortage.

Other higher education reads

The Job: Healthcare High Schools

Paul Fain’s recent report in Workshift took a look at the evolution of health care-focused high schools and early colleges, including work underway in Durham:

An analysis from Duke Health found roughly 8K annual openings in the region for in-demand positions that typically require an advanced certificate or associate degree. The biggest gap is for registered nurses, followed by nursing care assistants, imaging techs, medical assistants, and other roles.

The new school in Durham will be designed to change minds about dual enrollment, says Oluwunmi (Olu) Ariyo, Durham Tech’s director of college recruitment and high school partnerships. The goal is to “allow first-generation and at-risk students to move directly into full-time positions or apprenticeships,” she says, “or part-time employment in combination with further education under an equity lens.”

Students will graduate with a high school diploma as well as an associate degree or workforce credential. Besides integrating health sciences content across the curriculum, the school will offer career exploration activities, many hosted by Duke Health, as well as apprenticeships, internships, and clinical rotations for some career roles.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.