DULUTH Essentia Health is partnering with the University of Minnesota School of Nursing to help combat workforce shortages.

The partnership, which is part of the Journey to Magnet Nursing to create and sustain a culture of excellence, will offer educational experiences for nursing students working at Essentia, support a smooth transition from graduation into practice and foster creativity and innovation for both the health system and the learning environment.

“This is a really innovative way to ensure we maintain adequate staff levels to continue providing high-quality care to our patients,” Rhonda Kazik, Essentia’s chief nursing officer, said in a Tuesday, Nov. 16, news release. “By sitting at the same table as the University of Minnesota, this establishes a critical pipeline, not only to address staffing needs, but also to ensure we have some of the most skilled nursing students working in our facilities after graduation.”

The Journey to Magnet credential is recognized around the world as the highest attainment of excellence in nursing at health care organizations. The credential process requires health care organizations to self-assess, analyze gaps and transform the culture by creating opportunity for organizational advancement, team building and enhancement of self-esteem.

In addition to the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Essentia has a partnership with the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth to attract and provide paid training to certified nursing assistant students. Essentia Health-Fargo and Minnesota State University Moorhead have also recently forged a partnership that created the Essentia Health Center for Nursing on the MSUM campus.

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Essentia has several other initiatives to attract clinical students, including the Education to Employment effort, a financial-based incentive program that encourages students to complete their education in areas of high need for Essentia. Some or all schooling is paid for and they have a job secured at Essentia following graduation.