VNA Health Care: Building the nursing workforce of tomorrow

October 13, 2022 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Thanks to funding from Edward-Elmhurst Health, an exciting new program at VNA Health Care will help promote diversity and equity in the local healthcare workforce by providing financial support for staff seeking to begin or grow their nursing career.

The Nursing Pathway Program at VNA, a federally qualified health center in Aurora, has been made possible in large part through Edward-Elmhurst Health’s Community Investment Fund. In July 2022, Edward-Elmhurst Heath announced it had awarded $3,994,000 to 14 organizations across Cook, DuPage and Will Counties with the goal of advancing health equity and supporting local economic growth.

According to VNA’s President and CEO Linnea Windel, the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the need for a larger, more robust nursing workforce. “We have an aging society as well as a society that's becoming more diverse,” she says. “As healthcare leaders, we're looking at ways we can build the workforce for tomorrow – a diverse workforce that can meet the needs of a diverse population.” The Nursing Pathway Program is designed to build that workforce.

The program will provide tuition support for VNA staff to pursue or advance a nursing career for as long as their educational program lasts. Participants can attend an institution of their choice, so long as it is accredited, and they can continue to work at VNA during the program. In addition, participants will complete a paid internship in VNA’s community health programs to gain experience in community health.

Participants in the Nursing Program Pathway will receive more than just financial support. The funding from Edward-Elmhurst Health will enable the program to employ a program coordinator to support participants, connect them with mentorship opportunities, help them engage with the local community and connect graduates with nursing jobs at VNA. After graduation, participants must remain in VNA employment for at least as long as they received program support and at a minimum, a year.

The Pathway is open to VNA employees who have been there for at least three months. The application process gives staff the opportunity to determine what they want to do for their career and to speak with VNA leadership about their goals.

While she hopes many Pathway graduates will continue to work with VNA, Windel says the goal of the program is for graduates to remain in the local community to provide care, whether at VNA or another healthcare institution. “We're looking to build a workforce that's going to be here for the people in our community,” she says.

Learn more about Edward-Elmhurst’s Community Investment Fund partners. 

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