Case Study - Northwest/Western Colorado Healthcare Partnership

The Mesa County Workforce Center has long had the healthcare industry as a targeted sector. Ten years ago the long term health care industry approached them for help in creating a career ladder to move CNAs into careers in more skilled nursing positions (LPN, RN). Following that work, and continuing to listen to the needs of employers, they helped establish a career ladder for emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and cross-walked this to the CNA ladder to create a larger career lattice. Now they are continuing to build on those ladders and lattices to include allied health positions such as medical office staff and laboratory technicians.

Colorado faces a short and long-term shortage in its nursing and allied healthcare workforce. The primary drivers are increased demand associated with an aging population, decreased numbers of workers entering these occupations, limited training slots, and high industry turnover due to limited opportunity for advancement. In addition, rural Colorado has a few unique challenges, including difficulty attracting skilled nurses because wages are lower than urban areas and limited clinical space for training.

The three goals of this grant are:
1) Credential healthcare workers more quickly by developing additional training locations for CNA, LPN, RN, EMT, and MA programs resulting in industry-recognized certification or licenses;
2) Provide transferable, flexible career advancement opportunities with multiple points of entry; and
3) Increase the number of skilled healthcare workers in the region by exposing students to healthcare career opportunities.

As a rural partnership, they draw a great deal of strength from personal relationships, both with partner organizations and employers. Living in a rural area, partners know each other from many settings like the local Chamber, community groups like United Way, and personal histories. Employer engagement rests on the core principles of trust and execution. Since the employer community is small, one poor experience by one employer will be known by the others very quickly, and every interaction reflects on the partnership and its conveners.

Read the full profile to learn more about their approach to employer engagement, partnership building, and participant support.  

One-page grant summary/description