‘Earn While You Learn’ Nursing Program Expanding
The East Central College Nursing Program’s “Earn While You Learn” (EWYL) initiative has been leading the way in Missouri as a successful partnership among the college and its health care partners.
EWYL allows for ECC nursing students to earn a paycheck from local hospitals while they are conducting clinicals as part of the nursing program. In return, the students sign on to work at the hospitals after they graduate.
What began as a pilot program, Earn While You Learn just recently was fully approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing, which will allow for ECC’s program to expand and other colleges to follow suit.
The nursing board’s decision came after Nancy Mitchell, director of nursing and dean of health science at ECC, and Heather Sluis, clinical educator at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital (MBSH), presented at the Missouri Hospital Association “Innovations in Student Nurse Clinical Education Partnerships” event held in June.
The pair presented details to attendees about ECC’s successful partnership program, which benefits nursing students and two of ECC’s health care partners — MBSH and Mercy Hospital Washington.
The students must be in their fourth, and final, semester of the associate degree in nursing (ADN) to participate in the program.
During their last semester, student nurses will earn a wage while learning hands-on, real-world practices, all while being immersed in the culture of nursing and the health care institution, Mitchell said.
In return, the students sign a contract to work after they graduate with the hospital where they are conducting clinical training.
In 2020, ECC first placed students in MBSH and Mercy Hospital Washington as part of the Earn While You Learn program.
While approving the curricular change, the state nursing board gave the ECC Nursing program approval to partner with Phelps Health in Rolla to offer the same clinical partnership.
The partnership is much more than providing nursing students an income and getting them accustomed to a hospital culture, it also greatly benefits the health care partners.
“This allows the students to become embedded in the culture early on and it will decrease the cost to orientate them later,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell noted that MBHS saved about $50,000 in training and orientation costs with three student apprentices.
There has been an increased interest statewide, and beyond, in the EWYL initiative to combat nursing shortages and reduce new nurse turnover rates. Most recently, Washington School of Practical Nursing and Mercy Washington have developed a partnership mirroring ECC’s to offer the EWYL to practical nursing students.
“Our goal is to provide our students the best educational experience possible as well as keep these great nurses in our community caring for our community members,” Mitchell said.
“One does this by building relationships and partnerships with your community and your partner hospitals. We invest in one another, to invest in our community,” she added.
To learn more about the nursing degree options at ECC, visit www.eastcentral.edu/nursing/nursing/.