New UW System program offers nursing students tuition credit for COVID-19 jobs

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — Nursing students in the University of Wisconsin System can earn a $500 tuition credit and valuable experience in a new program in which they will work in health-care situations to thwart the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program, which System President Tommy Thompson announced Tuesday, is intended partly to help relieve the stress on health-care workers and their hospitals, which are struggling to maintain staffing during the pandemic.
Many of the system’s approximately 4,000 nursing students already are working in health care, but the program aims to provide incentive to take such positions during the pandemic, Thompson said. Their duties might include administering tests and vaccines, with the anticipated federal approval of several companies’ formulas.
“The UW System continues to look for ways to help the state during the pandemic, and this proposal is another example of the Wisconsin Idea in action,” Thompson said. “We have worked closely with Wisconsin’s health care providers and nursing homes to identify this need and are glad we can help.”
Thompson said he is working closely with Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and incoming Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu to bolster the state’s response to the pandemic, which has killed more than 3,000 Badger State residents.
The UW System has taken a lead role in expanding COVID-19 testing in the state. The system’s 13 universities opened new “surge testing” sites this month in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which has provided 250,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid-results antigen tests.
It is the first time a federal surge testing operation is using Abbott BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care tests that provide a result within 15 minutes. Federal surge testing provides additional temporary federal support to areas that have seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases.
The testing sites are free and open to the public, and more than 55,000 tests have been administered across Wisconsin. Under the system’s testing program for students launched at the start of the semester, the universities have conducted more than 250,000 tests.
An additional 10,000 confirmatory PCR tests have been provided by the state Department of Health Services. Residents can register for tests at the national COVID-19 test website.