Augustana, Sanford partner to meet workforce demands

by Sioux Falls Development Foundation
Published 07/02/2019
Originally Published by Sioux Falls.Business

Augustana and Sanford Health are close. They’re close geographically, within an easy walk or bike ride in central Sioux Falls. They’re close foundationally, as both have roots in the Lutheran faith. And they’re close professionally, working together to prepare young people for careers in health care. It’s one example of how Augustana is partnering with the business community to help meet workforce needs.

“We’re fortunate that Augustana has such a longstanding history of producing very high-quality graduates,” said Diana Vanderwoude, Sanford’s senior executive director with human resources.

“We have regular engagement with Augustana about what our workforce needs are, looking at what the hot jobs are and the types of programs they might consider starting based on our workforce needs.”

Augustana and Sanford have worked together to create a nursing program that’s more than a decade old.

“It’s all around creating a more meaningful and welcoming student experience when nurses are in practical environments,” Vanderwoude said. “We’ve co-published two articles around that and have a third underway.”

Augustana also provides a significant undergraduate experience for eventual medical students, she added.

“They have very strong biology and chemistry programs, and we’ve worked together through our Sanford PROMISE research initiative to offer a variety of undergraduate and graduate internships during the summer and the academic year.”

The collaboration produces a true win-win for both organizations.

“It’s a decades-long relationship, and we’re both always looking for opportunities to work together, particularly in emerging fields of medicine such as genetic counseling,” Herseth Sandlin said.

Augustana alumnus and current trustee Dr. Gene Hoyme, former president of Sanford Research, medical director of Sanford Children’s Genomic Medicine Consortium and senior adviser for Sanford Imagenetics, helped bridge collaboration between the two that created a genetic counseling program to prepare students for futuristic jobs in personalized medicine.

“Dr. Hoyme always felt our natural sciences programs were of a quality and rigor that, when also blended with our liberal arts core, prepared students so well for medical school and other careers in the natural sciences, and he has become one of many internal advocates for Augustana,” Herseth Sandlin said.

“And even those who aren’t alumni are familiar with the rigor of our academic programming, which serves Sanford and our community partners well in a variety of contexts, including hiring for positions such as human resources, finance and marketing professionals.”

The two organizations also have a long history of collaboration preparing students for careers in athletic training, exercise sciences and sports management.

“And we have a number of top executive leaders who are Augustana graduates,” Vanderwoude said. “That speaks to how Augustana prepares students with the ability to think critically and think through challenging and complex situations.”

There also are future opportunities to work together, she added.

“There’s opportunity for a graduate nursing degree. We’ve talked about advanced certificates in genetic counseling, and if you look at social work and psychology, there’s a great need for behavioral health professionals throughout the region and opportunities to expand in that area,” she said.

“I just welcome those conversations and appreciate that Augustana is a partner at the table.”