Partnership between UnityPoint-St. Luke’s, Kirkwood hoping to recruit more nurses

A new partnership with UnityPoint St. Luke's and Kirkwood Community College is hoping to address the nursing shortage at the hospital.
Published: May. 22, 2022 at 10:09 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - A new partnership between UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital and Kirkwood Community College is hoping to address the nursing shortage at the hospital.

The Nursing Promise Program is open for students graduating this year and next, and will give them financial assistance if they agree to work in an area of need at St. Luke’s for 18 months.

Olivia Mutasingwa has always had an interest in healthcare, but working as a CNA after high school made her decide to become a nurse.

“I didn’t realize how much care people needed once they got older,” Mutasingwa said. “I know it sounds silly to say, but coming out of high school and working in a nursing home definitely opened my eyes to the things that people need, as they get older.”

Mutasingwa is in her final semester at Kirkwood, and qualified for the Nursing Promise Program. That financial help is going a long way as she prepares for her future.

“Luckily I’m at a community college,” Mutasingwa said. “So, the financial burden isn’t as extreme as someone who is at a university, but it’s still pretty expensive to go to nursing school, especially paying for books, uniforms, you have to commute yourself to and from clinical sites.”

Workers with the hospital say there’s a shortage in almost all of their departments. They hope this program will help recruit, and retain nurses.

“What we’re also committing to them is creating a workplace and a work environment,” Carmen Kleinsmith, senior vice president and chief nurse executive at St. Luke’s, said. “Where we bet on wanting them to stay after they’ve been here those 18 months.”

Mutasingwa is excited to graduate this year, and make a difference.

“After the 2 years that nurses have gone through, I don’t necessarily blame them,” Mutasingwa said. “But I’m hoping I can be a help to the shortage.”

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