Two Sanford Health employees in Bemidji, Minnesota, are taking advantage of a partnership between Sanford and the state of Minnesota to advance their education and careers.
Jonah Jaskowiak, a patient care technician at Sanford Bemidji Medical Center, is going to be a respiratory therapist. Taylor Sautbine, a health guide at the same location, is now a respiratory therapist with hopes of continuing education to further her career.
They’re both part of the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline in conjunction with Sanford Health. As such, they receive grants of up to $6,000 a year to be used for tuition and required materials.
In addition, Sanford pays an additional 25% of the student’s tuition, books and fees.
In addition to respiratory therapy, other programs available through the Dual-Training Pipeline Grant include registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, surgical technologist and licensed alcohol and drug counselor.
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Grant makes ‘back to school’ possible
Jaskowiak, who is nearing a decade as a Sanford Health employee, knew his next steps would involve additional education but wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to navigate that challenge. He was intrigued by the possibility of a grant through Sanford’s affiliation with the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline and decided to apply.
“I ended up getting the grant,” Jaskowiak said. “That sealed the deal for me on going back to school. I wanted to explore some new opportunities in health care and when I looked into respiratory therapy it looked very interesting to me.”
For Sautbine, getting an associate of applied sciences degree to go with her bachelor’s degree in exercise science will open her up to new opportunities within Sanford.
“I don’t think I’d have done it if I didn’t have this opportunity with the grant,” Sautbine said. “I know finances make it hard to do for a lot of people and just going back to school is hard. It’s a big-time commitment, but it’s nice to have this pipeline grant, along with the backing of Sanford Health.”
She views her experience as a health guide a valuable tool. She knows what kinds of things can become obstacles in health care and can identify with those challenges from a patient’s perspective.
“I’m not going to just walk into a hospital room and give them what they need and then walk out,” she said. “I’m going to build that rapport with that person to make them feel safe. Hospitals can be scary. If you can build that trusted relationship with them, I think that can go a long way toward making them feel more comfortable.”
Health care jobs and training at once
Sanford Health has received a dual-training grant in conjunction with the program since 2019 and has partnered with schools throughout Minnesota.
One or more of the five programs are offered at Bemidji State University, Anoka Tech College, Central Lakes College, Century College, Hennepin Technical College, Lake Area Technical College, Minnesota West Technical College, Northland Community and Technical College, Northwest Technical College, Oak Hills Christian College, Rasmussen College, Ridgewater College and Riverland Community College.
Participants are involved in structured on-the-job training and related instruction so they can develop the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed. In return, students agree to work at Sanford for three years following the completion of their schooling.
“I was going to be working at Sanford either way and this is a great way to get help with tuition payment,” Jaskowiak said. “Plus, working at the hospital with the respiratory therapy department and getting hands-on experience is definitely helping me with my future career.”
Last year Sautbine appeared before the Minnesota legislature on behalf of the Minnesota Dual-Training Pipeline. An essential point: This kind of collaboration works for both employers and employees and potentially has other applications in other professions.
“The support of Sanford Health is huge,” Sautbine said. “I think it can really motivate people. A lot of people get scared about going back to school because you might be wondering about what will happen afterwards. You get a degree and then what? What if you can’t find a job? It’s so assuring to know that you already have a job lined up for you.”