With the help of a State grant, Stonehill Communities is working to grow the healthcare workforce in the Dubuque area. The Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund awarded Stonehill $46,000 to pay for tuition costs for new or current employees pursuing their Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), or Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credentials. The funding and equal matching dollars from Stonehill will cover tuition of approximately $5,200 for 10 future LPN’s or RN’s and classes/testing for 50 new CNA’s, at a cost $800 per person.
Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Certified Nursing Assistants are in high demand in Iowa. According to LeadingAge Iowa, there are 6,600 openings and only 228 potential candidates for RN’s; 942 openings and 66 candidates for LPN’s; and 1,734 openings and 336 potential candidates for CNA’s. With a growing aging population and workforce challenges, Stonehill believes that it is crucial to provide opportunities for individuals with no post-secondary education to enter the healthcare field.
“[The goal] is to get individuals into healthcare that would otherwise have financial barriers that would prevent them from starting a career in healthcare,” said Karla Waldbillig, VP of Human Resources at Stonehill Communities.
Tuition payment and other educational benefits are not new to Stonehill. Employees can already take advantage of scholarships and CNA Fast Track opportunities, along with a full range of health, wellness, and financial benefits. However, the grant allows Stonehill to significantly expand the number of individuals able to receive tuition support.
“Investing in our staff is very important to us. We know that by helping them advance in their careers we strengthen our organization and improve the quality of services we provide to the community,” said Waldbillig.
Stonehill will be promoting the new opportunities through community partners including the Veteran’s Freedom Center and Opening Doors.
“We are excited to be able to offer this to those who may not ever have considered a career in healthcare,” said Waldbillig.
Stonehill is one of six Dubuque providers who received Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund grants. Other recipients included Aspire Home Childcare Network, Four Mounds Foundation, Steeple Square, Hills and Dales, and MercyOne-Dubuque.