A split image of a group of Mission Partners from OSF St. Luke Medical Center participating in the Trailblazer Challenge and an image of OSF St. Luke Medical Center.

Addressing local health care staffing shortages

Physicians, nurses and other clinicians are in short supply across the U.S. and that’s only expected to get worse in the future. But what can local health care leaders do to reverse this trend? OSF HealthCare Saint Luke Medical Center in Kewanee might have the answer.

The hospital recently asked its own Mission Partners to help solve this national issue as part of a Trailblazer Challenge. As a result, OSF Saint Luke was able to source 25 ideas, with a majority coming from Mission Partners on the front lines of care.

As an Innovation Hub that gives Mission Partners at every level the tools to turn innovative ideas into viable solutions for their own communities, the hospital selected five concepts to further develop their ideas.

Developing a local talent pipeline 

The following proposals focus on how to attract students and the community to clinical and non-clinical roles at OSF Saint Luke.

Camp Med

Project lead: Brenda Streit, supervisor, Volunteer Services

Camp Med is an initiative to introduce junior high school students to professions in rural health care. The goal is to offer a five-day camp at OSF Saint Luke that provides young people with education and hands-on activities that allow them to explore and experience the wide-ranging careers involved in health care delivery. Brenda plans to tap into resources offered through the Jump Simulation STEAM program as well as ideas from local Mission Partners to build the program out.

“I believe that our youth is our future,” said Brenda. “This camp will give us a chance to demonstrate our culture of compassion to students and illustrate the benefits of working in a rural hospital.”

A day in the life of a Mission Partner

Project leads: Breanne Cinnamon, supervisor, Rehabilitation Services, and Darcy James, manager, Patient Access

This project aims to improve the OSF Careers page to give applicants a clearer picture of jobs available and what it takes to obtain those roles. This would include more detailed descriptions of open positions at OSF Saint Luke as well as video and podcast content featuring Mission Partners in action and answering questions about their roles. This material would also be shared on social media platforms and used in area schools and career events.

“The idea is to provide a better understanding of the roles OSF has to offer and why Mission Partners choose to serve here every day,” said Darcy. “Giving members of the community an idea of the day in the life of a Mission Partner can help us educate, motivate and recruit more people.”

Student volunteers and hospital helpers

Project leads: Jennifer Oetzel, occupational therapist, and Natalie Boelens, clinical pharmacist

This team combined their ideas to increase the number of volunteers at OSF Saint Luke while also helping students explore careers in health care. The new concept expands an established volunteer program into an on-site, unpaid internship offered to young people in junior high, high school, home school or area colleges. Internships would be offered in four categories: clinical, technical, service-oriented or business administration. The goal is to expand knowledge in various health care fields, help hospital departments fill gaps in personnel and provide hands-on activities for students to gain full experience of the workplace.

“Getting students into our facilities will raise awareness of community service and career opportunities in health care,” said Jennifer. “It will also help us provide a future employee base for our health system.”

OSF in the classroom

Project lead: Sam Rux, coordinator, Public Relations & Communications

This concept would partner OSF Saint Luke with schools in the Kewanee area to expose students of all ages and the community to the hospital. The idea is for Mission Partners to teach lessons on different aspects of health care in schools, leveraging digital tools, health care-themed toys and other materials. Topics include helping kids understand what happens during a primary care appointment or how the emergency department works. Volunteer Mission Partners would develop a curriculum to fit each grade level.

“My goal with this program is to show kids what it’s like to be a patient,” said Sam. “But at the same time, they are learning what it means to be a clinician or a caretaker in each of those departments.”

No degree? No problem!

Project leads: Breanne Cinnamon, supervisor, Rehabilitation Services, and Zoey Murphy, non-traditional technologist, Clinical Laboratory Services

While clinical roles are hard to fill across the U.S., hospital systems are also seeing decreases in people interested in non-clinical roles, such as maintenance, medical billers, coders and IT. The purpose of this project is to develop various marketing materials educating the community on employment opportunities that don’t require a college degree, but that allow them to build a career path within OSF. These materials would focus on how individuals will have access to continued education and tuition reimbursement to build meaningful careers.

“In 2020, 24% of Henry County graduates did not enroll in a two- or four-year college program within 12 months of graduation and that number is even higher for the largest high school within our own community,” said Breanne. “That means there’s a large population of individuals entering the workforce who don’t have a college degree and are looking for a stable job with good benefits. There’s an opportunity for us to help them find those roles.”

What’s next?

The finalists recently presented their ideas to a group of leaders from OSF Innovation and OSF Saint Luke, with “Camp Med” and “A day in the life of a Mission Partner” receiving special recognition.

All five ideas will move forward for further development. The teams will recruit more OSF Saint Luke Mission Partners to work on their projects and will meet with hospital leaders to plan their next steps. The groups will also receive continued support and guidance from OSF Innovation as well as other OSF divisions, such as Human Resources and Marketing & Communications.

Mission Partners are critical to the Mission of OSF. They have firsthand knowledge of problems at the front lines of care and operations and often have ideas on how to fix them. Tapping Mission Partners for solutions impacts health care delivery for patients across the organization.

Last Updated: August 7, 2023

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About Author: Denise Molina-Weiger

Denise Molina-Weiger is a Writing Coordinator for OSF HealthCare, where she has worked since March 2015. She initially came to OSF to write about the work taking place at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center, one of the world’s largest simulation and innovation centers and went on to become the Media Relations Coordinator for OSF Innovation which was developed to help the hospital system lead the way in transforming care.

Before joining the OSF HealthCare team, Denise was a reporter for Peoria Public Radio for ten years, writing on everything from politics, housing and transportation issues to hospital care in the region. She earned her bachelor’s degree in radio broadcasting from Western Illinois University in 2003 and received her master’s degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2004.

Denise lives in West Peoria with her husband, son and two crazy dogs. In her spare time, she likes to snuggle on the couch with her family and watch cooking shows on Netflix. She loves taking road trips with her family and then complaining about it when they are over.

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Categories: General, Innovation