La Crosse’s health systems have a shortage of medical assistants

July 20, 2021 6:11 PM

Posted on 07/20/2021 6:11 PM

Updated: July 20, 2021 6:12 PM

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WKBT) – People who work in health care have experienced burnout if they survive the pandemic.

Now a group of Gundersen Health System employees is suffering even more from burnout due to the lack of staff.

Gundersen currently has dozens of medical assistant positions. These are the people you see in front of your doctor … nurse or doctor.

A health system recruiter says there are currently between 25 and 35 employee vacancies.

Working as a medical assistant requires a positive attitude.

Ingrid Pape has been doing this at Gundersen Health System for 40 years.

“You go home and feel like you’ve made a difference for someone,” said Pape, a medical assistant.

That means having a connection with the patient.

“It’s just a good feeling to know that you’ve really achieved something today,” said Pape. “You were a value. You were important “

But it’s something that’s been more difficult lately because of the scarcity in Pape’s area.

“It’s just hard because you come in and you can’t spend that much time with every patient,” she said.

Health systems like Gundersen rely heavily on MAs who come from colleges.

Recruiter Becky Vang says the lower enrollment of students in these programs is primarily why there are vacancies.

“In addition to an aging population, Gundersen is also a growing organization overall,” said Vang.

She says Gundersen’s wages for MA are between $ 16 and $ 20 an hour.

There are no plans to change these wages, but that could change.

“Annually, our compensation team reviews the agreements to make sure we stay competitive in the market,” said Vang.

Vang says that without enough MAs, Gundersen will miss her “diverse talents”.

“They are really important and critical to our medical teams,” said Vang.

The quality of care does not change, and although Pape’s workload requires a little extra effort at the moment, she says that she loved Gundersen from the start.

“I’ve enjoyed Gundersen from day one,” said Pape. “And it just got better.”

Maintain a positive attitude four decades later.

Vang said in an interview with Western Technical College that enrollments for the MA program are rising again this year.

She hopes that if the number of enrollments increases, Gundersen will be able to fill some of his positions in the future.

The health system at the Mayo Clinic in La Crosse is also currently seeing a low number of MA applicants.

Systems leaders said in a statement to News 8 Now, “A shortage of health workers is being felt across the health sector. The Mayo Clinic health system registers a small number of applicants for available medical assistant positions. We continue to work with our educational partners to connect with future medical assistants in the classroom while removing obstacles such as certification requirements. The Mayo Clinic Health System offers professional development opportunities to train in multiple disciplines while offering opportunities for career growth. Our goal is to retain and encourage current and future medical assistants to make the Mayo Clinic Health System a location for patient care for years to come. “

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