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MRHC grows from within by providing tuition assistance

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MRHC nursing tuition assistance 20-01-03s

An employee tuition assistance program has supported 13 current staff members at Manning Regional Healthcare Center who are advancing their careers to fill high-need positions. Five who have benefited include (from left) Sam Blum, RN; Brittany King, LPN; Elaine Macumber, LPN; Taya Vonnahme, RN, BSN; and Mikasia Jacobsen, CNA.

As a child growing up in Manning, Taya Vonnahme had several extended family members who worked in the medical field.

With relatives who were EMTs and paramedics to her grandmother, Cynthia Genzen — who was a nurse at Manning Regional Healthcare Center for more than 40 years — she saw the difference they made for others in their time of need.

“That was something that has always stuck with me,” said Vonnahme, when recalling those memories.

As a result, she knew she wanted to attend nursing school. Upon completing program requirements to become a Licensed Practical Nurse, Vonnahme worked full time as an LPN at the Manning Plaza before transitioning to MRHC’s discharge planner position in 2011.

Several years later, she decided to further her education and become a registered nurse. The decision to go back to school at that time was made easier thanks to the employee tuition assistance program offered at MRHC.

“I knew I was going to go back to school, and having a financial option that is easy and hassle-free made the decision less stressful,” Vonnahme said.

With the support of flexible scheduling from her supervisors at MRHC, and encouragement from co-workers as she juggled school and work, Vonnahme not only became an RN but continued to earn her bachelor of science in nursing. Today, she works as an RN house supervisor while at the same time pursuing her master of science in nursing degree to become a family practice nurse practitioner.

“Taya is dedicated to her patients, family and community,” said Michelle Andersen, RN, BSN, chief nursing officer at MRHC. “She is always seeking ways to advance her career so she can better serve those she provides care to. Taya is mentioned multiple times in patient surveys for her compassionate and competent care.”

Vonnahme is just one of many examples of employees who were encouraged to continue their education in order to fill high-need nursing positions thanks to the caring culture MRHC has created.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028 — much faster than the average for all occupations. Similarly, the need for licensed practical nurses is expected to grow at 11% and nursing assistants 9% during the same 10-year period.

The need for additional nurses across the country is due to a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive care, growing rates of chronic conditions (such as diabetes and obesity) and aging baby boomers who are living longer and more active lives and are in need of additional services.

“We have already seen this increased need for more nursing positions at MRHC,” Andersen said. “We’ve taken some proactive steps to fill those needs by encouraging staff who may not have otherwise considered a career in nursing to think about going back to school, and we provide tuition assistance to help them achieve their goals.”

One such “grow from within” example is current staff LPN Elaine Macumber. She did not have a nursing background and began working at MRHC in 2011 in admissions and health information management. Within a year, she moved to the inventory coordinator role, where she began working more closely with the nursing team.

That experience started a career trajectory she didn’t see coming.

“(The nursing staff) saw that I cared about patient outcomes, so they encouraged me to further my education and join the nursing team,” Macumber said.

She did just that, completing her LPN requirements and joining the medical/surgical staff in April 2019. She’s now working toward becoming a registered nurse — again taking advantage of flexible work scheduling and the hospital’s tuition assistance program.

“The program made a big difference, as the stress of a financial burden was lifted,” Macumber said. “It helps a lot so you can focus on your studies.”

Because MRHC has experienced growth in patient volumes during the last year, it has several nursing positions currently open. Available positions include all levels of nursing education — including CNAs, LPNs or RNs. MRHC also is recruiting nursing supervisory positions. To view a complete list, and apply for any nursing position, visit or call 712-655-2072.

MRHC Tuition Assistance Policy

MRHC understands the importance of education and wants to ensure that employees have every opportunity to obtain quality education. To be eligible for tuition assistance, an employee must meet the following criteria:

— Has been through the 90-day probationary period

— Works a minimum of 20 hours a week

— Is in an eligible employment status on the course start date

— Remains in an eligible employment status throughout the course

— Provides proof of successful completion of course work

— Is in good standing and not on the discipline track (certain circumstances will be taken into consideration by the Tuition Assistance Committee)

— Administration can waive eligibility requirements based on workforce need.

To be eligible for tuition assistance, each course must be designed to develop knowledge, skills or abilities recognized as important in the present or foreseeable future at MRHC and meet other criteria.

For more information, contact Shelli Lorenzen, Chief Human Resources Officer, at (712) 655-2072.

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