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Wellington Regional Medical Center partnership puts nurses at the bedside faster

The nurse apprenticeship program accepts new nurses in their final six weeks of school
Posted at 1:28 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 13:32:16-05

WELLINGTON, Fla. — Florida’s medical workforce is feeling a strain. More staff is needed to cover the gaps created by pandemic burnout, early retirements and low wages.

At Wellington Regional Medical Center, they’re working with Palm Beach State College to get new nurses to the bedside faster.

The nurse apprenticeship class accepts nurses in their final six weeks of school. They’re already been hired by the hospital. They complete their hospital on-boarding and education requirements, at the same time they’re completing the apprenticeship.

“So once they take their boards they’re able to come into the hospital, they’ve done most of their orientation and then we get them to the bedside faster. Which is important for our patients, it’s important for the shortages that we have,” said Interim Chief Nursing Officer Melissa Heath.

Valentina Laberkova just started working at Wellington Regional Medical Center as a critical care nurse.

She finished her apprentice class in July and is walking the hospital floor with confidence, because of this unique training.

“Very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the program. It’s pretty hard to get into a critical care unit right out of school,” Laberkova said.

Palm Beach State College President Dr. Ava Parker calls the program a win-win, as more students want to major in health sciences and the demand for nurses is greater than ever.

“Now these students can really write their own future. They love the opportunity to actually train in an area they love. They like the certainty of knowing where they go. And this is such a wonderful environment to work in,” said Parker.

The hospital began its second nurse apprenticeship class in early November with five nurses enrolled. Eight have previously complete the program.

“When you’re a new nurse, you’re terrified. Once they complete their boards and come into the hospital, that fear is much more relaxed because they’ve already been acclimated to the environment,” said Heath.