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Dec. 14 update:

University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson today announced additional
details to provide incentives to UW students with nursing skills and other health backgrounds to work on the front lines of Wisconsin’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional details include qualifying criteria, deadlines, and how students can apply.

A $500 tuition refund will be provided to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Must be enrolled at a UW System campus during the spring 2021 semester.
  • Must work a minimum of 50 hours in a Wisconsin clinical or healthcare setting, such as a hospital,
    clinic, nursing home, long-term care facility, state or local health care facility, or state veterans home, between Dec. 1, 2020, and Feb. 1, 2021.
  • Must meet healthcare licensure and certification requirements, such as a Registered Nurse (RN),
    Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Certified Medical Assistant (CMA), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Emergency Medical Technician (CEMT), or Nurse Aid.
  • Students who qualify as a CNA under the emergency rule currently in place can participate as well.

    The program is open to students currently employed or who become employed in a Wisconsin clinical or healthcare setting. To be eligible for the tuition credit, students must present a letter from their employer verifying the type of work and the hours worked to their campus Bursar’s Office by no later than March 31, 2021.

    Students who qualify will receive a $500 tuition refund at the end of the spring 2021 semester. Students may receive only one $500 tuition refund regardless of number of hours worked beyond the 50-hour minimum. Students interested in becoming involved can connect with employers via Handshake, an online job listing and candidate management system.

    The UW System will promote the use of Handshake to potential healthcare employers, and UW campus career services administrators will help students identify job eligible opportunities.

    The UW System is considering additional spring semester incentives for nursing student health care work, including clinical support for vaccinations, beyond February 1, 2021.

Beyond gaining valuable real-world experience, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh nursing students will now be eligible for a tuition credit of $500 for working to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The new incentive, announced last week by UW System, means the more than 850 students in the UW Oshkosh College of Nursing (CON) can take advantage of this opportunity offered through the winter break.

“This is an exciting opportunity for students to work with other healthcare professionals to tackle the challenges presented by COVID-19,” said CON Dean Judy Westphal. “The UW System is providing a win-win situation. Our students will gain valuable experience and individuals in the community benefit from the help students provide.”

Westphal estimated more than half of nursing students are already working in healthcare, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t openings. Many healthcare systems in northeast Wisconsin have postings for nursing assistants, registered nurses and more, she said.

The UW System as a whole has about 4,000 nursing students. While many of them already are putting their skills to use in hospitals, clinics and other facilities, the tuition credit will offer a new incentive at a time when healthcare workers are in high demand—including with COVID-19 vaccine production ramping up and distribution expected in the coming weeks and months.

“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,” said System President Tommy Thompson. “We have worked closely with Wisconsin’s healthcare providers and nursing homes to identify this need and are glad we can help.”

In addition, 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.

UW System has taken a lead role in expanding COVID-19 testing in the state. Earlier this month the System’s 13 universities opened new “surge testing” sites 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 general public, and so far more than 55,000 tests have been administered across Wisconsin. An additional 10,000 confirmatory PCR tests have been provided by the state Department of Health Services. Community members can register at

Under its testing program for students launched at the start of the semester, UW System universities have conducted more than 250,000 tests.

“We continue to prioritize the safety of our campuses and our communities, and we’ll do everything we can to help Wisconsin aggressively fight this virus,” said Board of Regents President Andrew S. Petersen. “We are incredibly grateful for our state and federal partners in combating this serious public health pandemic.”

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