KENTUCKY (WEHT) — The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education announced its Healthcare Workforce Collaborative, a new partnership with colleges and universities, state agencies, the healthcare industry and the K-12 education system to address Kentucky’s critical healthcare workforce shortage.

The healthcare workforce crisis was only made worse by the ongoing COVID pandemic. Late last year, Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order declaring the state’s nursing shortage an emergency.

“My administration is focused on improving the health and well-being of Kentuckians, which includes making sure they have access to healthcare and the best medical care possible,” Beshear said. “Now is the time to be innovative in how we recruit and retain healthcare workers, and that’s going to take our education and healthcare systems working together to remove some barriers keeping people from entering the profession.”

Government officials say the collaborative will provide grants to Kentucky’s public universities and community and technical colleges to expand programs that train healthcare providers in high-demand areas and lead to professional certification or licensure.

Strategies the collaborative will consider include:

  • Developing more flexible programming, such as virtual and accelerated options
  • Expanding apprenticeships, internships and other work-based learning opportunities
  • Creating professional development opportunities for faculty to learn new teaching technologies
  • Purchasing simulators and other healthcare training equipment
  • Increasing student advising, tutoring and support services to help retain students in these demanding programs.

According to officials, the collaborative also create a clear pathway to the healthcare professions by engaging students early with the help of the K-12 school systems.