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Health care simulation training center — and $8 million funding ask — aims to treat workforce ills

Data shows the state is facing a severe shortage of health care workers: Minnesota will need more than 50,000 more nurses by 2030, one-fifth of nurses are at retirement age or older and there are already 18,000 patient care jobs open in Southeast Minnesota alone.

One method to address the shortfall is by expanding access to training.

To that end, Greater Rochester Advocates for Universities and Colleges, which links educators to employers, has proposed creating a regional, state-of-the-art simulation training center. Though most of the anticipated users would be nursing students, the center could help provide realistic experiences for people aiming to acquire or improve skills up and down the health care system. 

The center could bring people into the workforce for the first time, hone skills and accelerate their training, said Rep. Tina Liebling (DFL-Rochester), who sponsors HF2339 to appropriate $8 million from the General Fund to help build the center.

Monday, the House Capital Investment Committee heard the bill, and a delete-all amendment, on an informational basis.

Recent cost estimates to build the center include $75,000 for predesign and programing, $7 million for construction, $3 million for technology, equipment and furnishings, and $2 million for start-up costs. Future center operations would have to be self-financed through user fees.

Simulation training centers at the Mayo Clinic, Winona State University and Rochester Community and Technical College have no extra capacity.  

Bill supporters anticipate it could be used for undergraduate training for Winona State University and Luther College nursing students, Olmsted Medical Center employees and Hawthorne Education Center Healthcare Pathways, which is an adult education program.

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