© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Amid national shortage, state launches education initiative to bolster health care workforce numbers

A nurse tends to a COVID-19 patient in a Stamford Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU), on April 24, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut.
John Moore / Getty Images
Getty Images North America
A nurse tends to a COVID-19 patient in a Stamford Hospital intensive care unit on April 24, 2020, in Stamford, Connecticut.

Connecticut launched a higher education initiative Wednesday to bridge the state’s shortage of nurses and behavioral health workers.

The three-year program is designed to support students pursuing degrees in nursing and social work.

“Connecticut’s nurses have worked tirelessly as they have battled this global pandemic,” said Terrence Cheng, president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system. “And our social workers and our counselors have done equal duty, helping thousands across our state navigate COVID's darkest days.”

Connecticut isn’t alone in trying to address the shortage of health care providers — the Association of American Medical Colleges predicts a looming shortage of thousands of primary care physicians in the next decade.

Massive student debt and a health care system that pays more for specialized fields have pushed medical students away from primary care for years, Northeastern University professor Timothy Hoff told Connecticut Public’s Where We Live on Wednesday. But universities can also be part of the solution.

“There really needs to be a sea change in how medical schools perceive the whole practice and field of primary care and communicate that, and get young students excited about wanting to choose this field,” Hoff said. “Rather than sort of conveying the notion of, ‘Hey, be a specialist, don’t go into this field.’”

Connecticut’s $35 million initiative to address the health care worker shortage is expected to create more than 1,000 additional seats in nursing and behavioral health programs, provide tuition aid for students and support recruitment of more faculty to train them.

The plan is funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act and is part of the approved state budget.

As Connecticut Public's state government reporter, Michayla Savitt focuses on how policy decisions directly impact the state’s communities and livelihoods. Michayla has been with Connecticut Public since February 2022, and before that she was a producer and host for audio news outlets around New York state. When not on deadline, Michayla is probably outside with her rescue dog, Elphie. Thoughts? Jokes? Tips? Email msavitt@ctpublic.org.
Carmen Molina Acosta is the 2022 Dow Jones News Intern for the Accountability Project. She graduated from the University of Maryland in May 2022.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.