PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Healthcare workers across the nation are experiencing heavy burdens as the pandemic lingers into a third year.

To help ease those burdens, staffing shortages at OSF HealthCare have led the administration to call for volunteers to pick up extra tasks.

The Associate Dean of Nursing at Illinois Central College (ICC), Mischelle Monagle, said the country lost 18% of its healthcare workers.

As ICC staff teaches the next generation of healthcare workers, Monagle said they must prepare students for the shifts in the healthcare industry. She said extra emphasis is now put on stress management and work/life balance.

“What we have found is that students are not so much questioning that this is what they want to do, it’s ‘what is it going to be like when I get out there?’ and ‘Am I going to be safe?’” Monagle said. “And our answer is always yes because we teach you how to be safe.”

Monagle said it is crucial to ensure those who enter healthcare stay in healthcare. She said even at ICC, enrollment is down slightly.

“Will we get those students wanting to go into healthcare in the future? And that’s probably something we’re paying really close attention to right now,” she said. “This is not the time to abandon healthcare. This is the time that healthcare needs anybody and everybody that has that desire.”

Meanwhile, OSF HealthCare spokesperson Libby Allison said the organization created the “OSF Mission Connect Program.” Allison said the program prepares “Mission Partners” to fill the gaps caused by shortages.

Allison said those roles range from clinical settings to supply organization, meal deliveries, and more.