‘Win-win’: Tuition credit offered to UWO nursing students working in the pandemic


Patrick Flood

Photo courtesy UWO Flickr — University of Wisconsin Oshkosh nursing students will now be eligible for a tuition credit of $500 for working to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Beyond gaining valuable real-world experience, UW 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 doineedacovid19test.com.

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.”