Pipeline to the Future of Care

A novel LCMC Health program addressing the healthcare workforce shortage is quickly becoming a must-have for area universities.

When you find something that works, word gets around fast.

That’s been the case with LCMC Health’s Healthcare Professions Pipeline. Launched in 2021 as a partnership with Chamberlain University to offer nursing students a tuition-free way to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in exchange for a commitment to work for LCMC Health after graduation, the program was a quick success.

“People who could not pursue their dreams due to financial constraints suddenly had a way,” said Dr. Robin McGoey, LCMC Health chief academic officer and executive sponsor for the pipeline programs. “The success of that program was so great that it allowed us to obtain the resources we needed to create additional programs.”

After only two years, the pipeline has evolved from a partnership with one school to now partnerships with nine area universities covering 12 healthcare programs. 

McGoey said the idea is a win for all parties involved. 

“For the student, we’re providing an education-to-workforce pipeline that is more accessible and less stressful and that guarantees them a job after graduation,” she said. “For the universities, we’re providing funding to help them support their mission and their students. For LCMC, this program creates a sustainable pipeline of healthcare workers that is hopefully more diverse and inclusive, as well as the opportunity to eventually become contract labor free. A lot of healthcare organizations depend on contract labor, especially in difficult markets like now, and those workers come at a higher cost and are typically with us for short periods of time — a six-week stint is common — which means a lower level of engagement.”

University of Holy Cross Provost Dr. Lisa Sullivan said she’s excited that the university was chosen this year as a new partner in the pipeline. Its first UHC scholars will start in the 2024-2025 school year.

“We’re going to take this year to get the word out — promote it to our current student body, as well as potential students,” she said. 

Sullivan explained that UHC’s nursing students typically start the three-year nursing program in their sophomore year. Nursing students can either be accepted into the pipeline program as a junior nurse — meaning two years of tuition will be covered — or as a senior nurse, where one year of tuition will be paid. Junior nurses then agree to work for LCMC for three years and senior nurses for two years. 

“Because our programs have so many clinical experience requirements, it’s difficult for students to work once they’re in these programs,” Sullivan said, “which means if they have the opportunity for support from the healthcare industry it’s going to make it a whole lot easier for them.”

McGoey, also a physician, said scholars in the program are matched to LCMC positions in the same celebratory way that graduating medical students around the country find out each year where they will be attending residencies.

“Scholars put in their own rank list of where they’d like to work and that is taken into consideration, along with our needs,” she said. “We’ve only had one match day so far — it was this past June — and it was really fun. We called everyone up — all the disciplines from Chamberlain, LSU and Herzing — four to six months before graduation and had everyone open their envelopes to see where they matched. We’re proud to say about 70% received either their first or second choice.”

McGoey said she’s excited at the potential for the pipeline program to fill the current shortage of healthcare professionals — something she said puts the health of our communities at risk.

“All 12 programs should produce 750 new employees over the next five years,” she said. “Of that, about 80% will have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which is where we’re currently seeing the greatest need across the country.”

Did you know? In 2019, Louisiana had an overall shortage of 1,845 registered nurses. That deficit is projected to grow to 7,200 by 2025.