LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEAU) – While the shortage of healthcare workers is still an ongoing issue, one local healthcare system is attempting to gain the attention of potential future workers. First News at Nine’s Dashal Mentzel has more.

Local high schools were invited by Gundersen Health system to hear about careers in healthcare. Gundersen hoped to get around 150 students to show up to the event, they ended up doubling that. Kim Jackson, Gundersen Career Development Advisor, says, “Now that we have a much larger group of students here with us, we’re hopeful that they will make connections, that they will get excited about things and maybe really start to explore some of the academic programs that they could go into to get into those career areas.”

Gundersen is working with high schools to try and gain more interest from students. Jackson explains, “Besides helping our own employees with their career growth and development, we’ve really been trying to reach out more in the community and develop relationships and partnerships. So, we’re going to speak at more high schools, talking to some of their health students who are interested in the health sciences and really educating them about specific careers and getting them interested in why they might want to work at Gundersen in health care.”

Carley Buisman, the Manager of the Integrated Center for Education, says events like this will help students gain a better view of what kind of work goes into healthcare, “We’ve been doing the Pathways event for quite a number of years and what we have seen is that students really get interested in health care careers, even if they don’t know exactly what they want to do. These events really help get them to see a bunch of different things that people don’t realize health care has.

Buisman says a big reason for the healthcare shortage is retirements and getting more young students interested as soon as possible, will be beneficial for everybody, “We’ve had a lot of retirements recently and not as many people coming in. And there’s a big turnover because not only is health care seeing the shortage, but everybody is. And so, people have choices now. And so, making sure that we get interest here in health care is very much important and beneficial because it doesn’t just affect our organization, but it affects our patients and our community and everything that goes on around here.

In La Crosse, Dashal Mentzel, First News at Nine.

Buisman says the biggest shortages at Gundersen are in the certified nursing assistant programs, and medical assistant programs, as well as paramedics.