Bipartisan bill would allow veterans with medical training to help strained hospitals

NOW: Bipartisan bill would allow veterans with medical training to help strained hospitals

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- As hospitals in Wisconsin struggle during this latest COVID-19 surge, there are veterans with medical training that might be able to help.

A bipartisan bill authored by State Sen. Andre Jacque (R-DePere) would allow veterans to provide limited care at health care facilities, without a license, while under supervision of a medical professional.

Sen. Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point) is also a lead sponsor on the proposal and he said it couldn't have come at a better time as our hospitals are overwhelmed, exhausted and dealing with retirements as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

"The shortage is dire here in the state, anything we can do to get these individuals into the pipeline sooner is a win-win for the state," Testin said.

The bill would allow vets to ease staffing shortages at health care facilities while gaining hands-on experience needed to obtain a license.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association supports the measure and officials say it would be beneficial since many nurses are burnt out, overworked and leaving the professional altogether.

"We're seeing higher levels of retirement and I think we're also seeing a generational shift in that hospitals are 24/7, 365 days business," said Ann Zenk, senior vice president of workforce and clinical practice at the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

There are similar programs that match veterans with hospitals in states like Virginia called the Military Medics and Corpsmen Program, Testin said.

He's hopeful to bring Virginia's recruiting process to Wisconsin.

"It's been very successful in getting these individuals into the health care workforce and we think this is could be very applicable to Wisconsin," said Testin.

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