Jamie Hendrickson was a self-employed businessman doing auto repair when an allergy to the chemicals in automotive paint sidelined him. He was so sick his doctor recommended he change jobs. Hendrickson, who had been interested in health care since high school, decided to go back to school and become a nurse.
Married and the father of twin daughters, Hendrickson moved from Albert Lea, Minn., to participate in the UW-Eau Claire Marshfield site nursing program.
"It was the best decision of my life," said Hendrickson, who graduated with his degree in nursing in 2011.
Hendrickson said the nursing program at the Marshfield site let him move near family who could help with child care while he pursued a degree from a program and institution that has a reputation for quality. It also made it possible for him to work part-time while in school as a certified nursing assistant in the surgical intensive care unit at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Marshfield, he said.
"Working in the critical care unit providing direct patient care strengthened my decision to pursue a nursing degree," Hendrickson said. "My work also reinforced what I learned in the program."
Courses at the Marshfield site are taught by faculty located in Marshfield, faculty located at Eau Claire who travel to Marshfield and interactive special distance education classrooms.
"The relationship between Saint Joseph's and UW-Eau Claire is really a shining example of partnership," said Dr. Robin Beeman, assistant dean at the Marshfield site. "The program is thriving because of the support of both institutions."
The hospital benefits from having a pool of local nursing graduates to hire, Beeman said.
"A lot of the Marshfield students are geographically bound to the area by family and spouses' jobs and need a bachelor's degree in order to be better prepared for work at Saint Joseph's Hospital and other health care institutions in central Wisconsin," Beeman said. "This program helps students who want to stay and work in the area."
Hendrickson said small class size and one-on-one instruction in lab and clinical rotations in Marshfield are highlights of the program.