Missouri hospital employees pursuing further education will now have assistance thanks to the Missouri Hospital Association. Click to hear KMZU’s Jillian Molloy talk with Spokesperson Dave Dillon.

Dave Dillon

Press Release from the Missouri Hospital Association:

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Hospital Association has announced the award of $750,000 in scholarships to Missouri hospital employees pursuing education in projected high demand medical fields. The 189 award recipients will receive 50 percent tuition reimbursement — up to $4,000 — to pursue education in their fields through the Missouri Hospital Employee Scholarship program.

The announcement follows the release of MHA’s 2011 hospital workforce survey report that anticipates explosive growth in health professions in the coming decade.

“Health careers have provided the foundation for Missouri’s economy throughout the recession and will continue to provide excellent opportunity in the future,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA president and CEO. “However, the health care workforce is aging, and we expect that the demand for trained health professionals will expand as the economy improves and providers begin to retire.”

The Missouri Hospital Employee Scholarship program was designed to help hospital employees advance within their current fields or to enter into new fields. Scholarship recipients were chosen from applicants pursuing education in nursing at the bachelor’s degree level or higher; health information technology, including coding; laboratory technology; radiologic technology; occupational, physical or speech therapy; and doctorate level pharmacy. Every Missouri hospital with an employee submitting an application received at least one scholarship. There were more than 1,700 applicants.

The list of in-demand professions included in the 2011 workforce survey closely mirrors the scholarship awards categories, including registered nurses, imaging technologists and therapists. All three areas are included in the 2011 survey data.

The new report finds that although vacancy and turnover rates are not at historic levels, they remain a threat to the stability of the workforce — especially in light of projected retirements and increases in health care utilization.

“Approximately 500,000 Missourians will become insured through Medicaid expansion and the implementation of health insurance exchanges,” Kuhn said. “Our current provider community is stretched thin. To meet the health care needs of the baby boomers and the newly insured under health care reform, we have to build a larger pool of skilled health care workers.”

The Missouri Hospital Association is a not-for-profit membership association in Jefferson City that represents 151 Missouri hospitals. In addition to representation and advocacy on behalf of its membership, the association offers continuing education programs on current health care topics and seeks to educate the public, as well as legislative representatives, about health care issues.