Vote YES to Preserve Rural Workforce
May 01, 2016
By: David Dick, HRMC President & CEO
It is hard to imagine there was a time when our state did not have technical institutions. It wasn’t until 1965 that they were first authorized by South Dakota as vocational training institutions. Now they are a vital partner statewide to provide advance training for a skilled workforce.
In this article I want to focus on the value our state technical institutes provide by helping develop and train healthcare professionals. I also want to encourage you to vote on an amendment this November that will help them continue their mission.
Several years ago, we were notified that it was no longer viable to have a two-year nursing program here in Huron. As a result, leaders in our community started to meet diligently as a task force to find a solution for getting local students into a nursing program. The task force has pursued relationships with both four-year and two-year nursing degree programs.
There are several entry points into the nursing profession, starting with becoming a Certified Nurse Assistant. Our technical institutes provide Certified Nursing Assistant programs, Practical Nursing (LPN) degrees (usually one-year programs), and associate nursing degrees (RN) (usually two-year).
Among the professionals that hospitals employ, many are educated by our technical institutes. They include nurses, electricians, plumbers, accountants, administrative assistants, cardiac ultrasound technicians, health information and medical coding professionals, lab, radiology, pharmacy, and surgical technicians, and many more. Our state technical institutions provide a wide variety of training for these workers, and rural healthcare systems depend upon their programs to help us fulfill our mission of serving the healthcare needs of our communities.
Now we can help them by clearing up some confusion with their status under state law. Currently, they have no official status because our state constitution did not envision the development of a workforce through technical institutes. Our state legislature unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 1003 to add new language to our state constitution, which now includes postsecondary technical education institutes. This constitutional amendment has widespread support,
but only you and I can make it happen. A vote to amend will provide technical institutes with a governance structure determined by the Legislature. This amendment will give legislative authority to build upon the strength that already exists and also provide the statewide focus needed for these technical institutions to continue with their primary purpose of building a skilled workforce.
As a healthcare professional and community leader, I assure you that we need these rural champions. Please join me November 8 in voting “yes” on Constitutional Amendment R.
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