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Will Boost Enrollment as UW-EC Distance Education Site at Marshfield Medical Center

Submitted to FOCUS – Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS) and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire College of Nursing and Health Sciences today will mark the 30th anniversary of the university’s distance education nursing program at the Marshfield Medical Center. The two organizations are celebrating the anniversary with an alumni event 4-6:30 p.m. Nov. 20, at the Marshfield Clinic Laird Center for Medical Research, 1000 N. Oak Avenue.

The partnership that created the distance education site in Marshfield was established with Saint Joseph’s Hospital in 1986. In 1987-88, the first cohort of undergraduate students started taking nursing courses in Marshfield, with the initial class of 18 students graduating in May 1990.

MCHS’s recent acquisition of the hospital has allowed MCHS and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to continue that tradition of educating nursing students, as well as boost enrollment in the program.

To date, the nursing program in Marshfield has graduated 670 students who have earned a bachelor’s of science in Nursing (BSN) degree with the majority of them continuing to work as nurses in central Wisconsin.

Recent state budget cuts led to a reduced enrollment, but the new partnership with MCHS will allow the program to enroll 16 students per semester beginning with the 2017-18 school year.

“Marshfield Clinic Health System’s partnership with us has significantly supported our satellite nursing program in central Wisconsin,” said Dr. Rachel Merkel, Marshfield Site Coordinator. “This partnership continues our legacy of nursing education and developing the next generation of nurses in Wisconsin.”

In support of the undergraduate nursing program in Marshfield, MCHS is providing funds for faculty/instructional and administrative personnel as well as overhead costs and building space in the hospital.

“UW-Eau Claire has a successful record of educating students who have had long nursing careers in the communities MCHS serves,” said MCHS CEO Dr. Susan Turney. “As an Eau Claire alumna, I can attest to the value and positive impact of the program over the past several decades “There is a strong need for nurses in rural Wisconsin, particularly in central Wisconsin, and together with the University, we are committed to helping eliminate this shortage.”

Wisconsin is facing a significant nursing shortage, with nearly half of the nursing workforce at or near the retirement age within the next ten years, according to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Faculty work to ensure students at the Marshfield Site receive the same high-quality education as those enrolled at the Eau Claire campus. Students at the Marshfield Site and Eau Claire campus take the same 60 credits of nursing courses. Courses are taught via interactive distance education technologies by UW-Eau Claire faculty located in Marshfield and in Eau Claire.

Both the Eau Claire campus and the Marshfield Site each have three distance education rooms designed for the nursing classes. Video and audio equipment in the rooms enable students and faculty to see and interact live with each other.

Students complete prerequisite and general education courses primarily at UW-Marshfield/Wood County, UW-Marathon County, and UW-Stevens Point, as well as online through UW-Eau Claire or UW Colleges Online.

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