Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas Filling Critical Workforce Needs With Upskill NWA Graduates

May 1, 2023

Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas is working with a nonprofit jobs training program, Upskill NWA, to fill important roles from within the local community. This successful collaboration with the relatively new job skills program has resulted in the hiring of nine of the program’s 17 graduates, with many more expected to join Mercy in the near future.

Reina Gutierrez Mercy certified surgical technologist and recent Upskill NWA graduate, Reina Gutierrez

Mercy is committed to working with Upskill NWA to grow the pool of skilled health care professionals needed within the region to support the hospital's multiyear $500 million expansion. The job skills program connects participants to career opportunities as registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, surgical technologists, respiratory therapists, emergency medical technicians and radiologic technologists.

Associated expenses like tuition, books, fees, licensing exams and other costs are also covered. The Upskill NWA and Mercy collaboration is opening the door to a whole new group of talented and skilled individuals who are well positioned to succeed in the health care field.

"Mercy is committed to investing in our local community, and our relationship with Upskill NWA is a terrific example of our commitment to growing our local workforce," said Ryan Gehrig, president of Mercy Hospitals Arkansas. "By working together, we're able to provide opportunities to a group of highly motivated caregivers while also addressing the critical health care needs of our fast-growing community."

The organization's upskilling model provides a unique way to fulfill Mercy’s overall vision for increasing access to high-quality, low-cost health care in the region while also connecting Upskill NWA graduates with meaningful careers. Recent Upskill NWA graduate Reina Gutierrez was hired by Mercy in July 2022 as a certified surgical technologist. She is grateful for the opportunity she received.

"Financially, it was huge," said Gutierrez. "I just can't be thankful enough, because they [Upskill NWA] paid for everything, like books and even my scrubs and clinical shoes. That's just above and beyond, and I'm so thankful for all of that because I love what I do."

Before enrolling, Gutierrez was working as a certified nursing assistant when representatives from Upskill NWA came to her class at Northwest Technical Institute in Springdale. She cites the coaching and guidance to help students find jobs as one of the most valuable elements of the program.

Reina Gutierrez Gutierrez graduating from the Upskill NWA program in 2022

"It's been totally life-changing, honestly. I love everything about it," said Gutierrez. "I would really recommend it to people to further their career. Reach out to Upskill NWA and apply."

"Reina’s achievements are exactly what our program is designed to support," said Carol Silva Moralez, president and CEO of Upskill NWA. “We wake up every day to connect people to their dream careers, and Mercy's commitment to investing in the local community is a perfect fit with our mission and vision as we work together to address the critical health care workforce needs of our region.”