Nursing students in the University of Wisconsin System have the opportunity to work in hospitals to aid other healthcare workers to fight COVID-19 this winter break in a new initiative proposed by the UW System Nov. 24.

UW said the initiative is an attempt to aid the larger Wisconsin community in battling the virus.

In a press release, UW System President Tommy Thompson said the program is an example of the Wisconsin Idea.

“We have worked closely with Wisconsin’s health care providers and nursing homes to identify this need and are glad we can help,” Thompson said.

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 Around 4,000 students will be offered a $500 tuition credit for working in hospitals and other health care settings during winter break, according to the press release.

In an email to The Badger Herald, Thompson stated UW nursing students and the Wisconsin health care system would both benefit from the initiative.

“Our nursing students are some of the best in the country,” Thompson said. “With our health care system stressed, we thought it would be a great opportunity for our students and others in the health sciences to gain valuable experience and earn a $500 tuition credit while helping Wisconsin battle the pandemic.”

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In a thread on Twitter, the UW system said student on-campus testing rates have shown to be significantly lower than the state’s positive rates, a success Thompson and Board of Regent President Andrew Petersen credited to the UW campuses for their testing models. 

The UW system was first in the country to run free community surge testing with the new rapid-results tests, and it has administered over 80,000 tests in addition to approximately 250,000 student tests, according to their Twitter statement. 

Thompson and Peterson also commended the culture of responsibility amongst faculty, staff and students at UW schools for keeping positive rates low.