Wisconsin hospitals invested $176 million to train health professionals

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Wisconsin hospitals invested more than $176 million in 2013 to support training for physicians, nurses and other health care and allied professionals, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s annual hospital community benefit survey.

WHA representatives say that number is higher than recent years, but data for previous years were not provided by BizTimes Milwaukee’s deadline.

According to the WHA, on-site clinical training is an essential element in the education process for all health care professionals, but it requires a major commitment of time and financial resources from hospitals and clinics to implement and administer.

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Although Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements help, WHA Executive Vice President Eric Borgerding said government funding has been waning, particularly on the federal side, and hospitals can’t continue to bear the brunt of the costs for training health professionals.

For example, while hospitals are facing significant pressure to become more efficient and reduce their costs, Borgerding said they are also preparing for what he calls the “one-two punch” of the baby boomer generation’s imminent retirement. The results, he said, will be a significant reduction of the health care workforce plus a huge spike in demand for that generation’s care.

The costs for training health professionals must be a shared responsibility with the state government, according to Borgerding, and a “good step” was made in the last state budget when funding was created for new graduate medical education initiatives. The new funding was beneficial because it targeted dollars, much of which came in the form of matching grants, to create new specific high-need residency positions in Wisconsin in primary care, including psychiatry and general surgery.

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“We were very appreciative and pleased to work with the Legislature and government to invest $20 million toward physician post-graduate training education,” said Borgerding, adding that it wasn’t just a strategy to help offset the cost of medical education, but also a strategy to help keep the physicians the state is educating here in Wisconsin.

Research conducted by the WHA shows that there’s an 80 percent to 85 percent chance a Wisconsin native will stay and practice medicine if he or she attends medical school and completes a residency in the state.

Still, Borgerding said more needs to be done.
“We’re looking to work with the Legislature and government to build on those steps in the next Legislative session and make sure our federal lawmakers are stepping up to the plate and not backing away from their responsibilities,” Borgerding said. “The demands for care and a growing workforce are too great.”

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Below is a breakdown of what Wisconsin hospitals provided in 2013:

· $138 million of their own funds, in addition to federal and state reimbursement, to support physician residencies and internships, as well as clinical education for medical students;

· $14 million to provide clinical settings for undergraduate and vocational education nursing students and support the faculty necessary to provide and oversee the training; and,

· $23 million to offer clinical and other types of education to other health professionals, such as dietitians, therapists, pharmacists, emergency medical technicians and other allied health professions that are an integral part of the health delivery system.

In addition, hospitals gave more than $1.3 million in scholarships and tuition payments to help nurses and other health professionals not employed in their organizations pay their education expenses.

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