SSM Health partnership to prepare workers to become radiologic technologists

September 15, 2023

Thomas R Bailey Jr., vice president of development and special events at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, speaks during a tour with representatives of SSM Health and Siemens Healthineers, which have joined forces to expand access to oncology services and training. Next to Bailey are Jeremy Fotheringham, SSM Health regional president, left forefront, and Dave Pacitti, president and head of the Americas at Siemens Healthineers. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr./@CHA


ST. LOUIS — Citing the shortage of radiologic technologists and the need for more St. Louisans to have stable jobs, SSM Health and Siemens Healthineers announced a 10-year partnership that includes an apprenticeship program with the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, which supports people in underserved communities.

Along with the jobs program, SSM Health and Siemens Healthineers, a medical technology company based in Germany, announced more expanded oncology services across the health system's footprint in Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, as well as more support with sustainability efforts.

"As we look at the mission of SSM Health, the mission of the Urban League, and the mission of Siemens Healthineers, we've realized all of them have a deep connection into serving and transforming their communities," said Jeremy Fotheringham, regional president of SSM Health. "It's a lift for all of us when we partner together like this."

He attended an event at the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis' headquarters on Aug. 14 unveiling the partnership.

Michael McMillan, the league's president and CEO, said he hopes the collaboration will lead to the employment of "hundreds more" going forward. The Urban League is poised to enroll people in the apprenticeship program through its Save Our Sons and Save Our Sisters workforce development programs. It partnered with SSM Health during the height of the pandemic, providing workers to help administer COVID-19 tests and distribute personal protective equipment.

"The interest walks in the door every single day," said McMillan. "There are always people looking for ways to take care of themselves and their families."

Radiologic technologists, who operate X-ray, MRI and other diagnostic equipment, are in high demand. The Radiology Society of North America said that there are not enough diagnostic radiology trainees entering the workforce to handle the growing aging population, with the number of trainees entering the workforce increasing 2.5% from 2010 to 2020 compared to the number of adults over 65 increasing 34%.

The Advanced Health Education Center surveyed more than 350 clients from 34 states in 2021, and more than 81% reported a staffing shortage, with nearly 70% of the unfilled positions in radiography.

"We have to keep this very sustainable because obviously this challenge is going on for years to come, unfortunately, when it comes down to the workforce challenges in health care," said Dave Pacitti, president and head of the Americas at Siemens Healthineers.

Fotheringham said the shortages lead to longer wait times for diagnoses and treatment. "We really want to shorten that gap," he said. "One of the most important things we can do as a health care organization is to get care where people need it, when they need it."

The training program, which will be free, will include a combination of on-site and virtual learning. It will take about 18 months to complete.

Pacitti said program organizers hope to target high school students to make them aware of health care job opportunities. "This creates great community awareness," he said of the partnership with Urban League. "A lot of folks don't know about these jobs."

McMillan pointed out that the Urban League also can help trainees with housing, utilities and child care if they need it.

SSM Health said the partnership will strengthen its existing relationship with Varian, a Siemens Healthineers company, "to integrate oncology services, further optimize the utilization of diagnostic imaging equipment and technology, improve clinical and operational effectiveness, and ultimately enhance patient outcomes," according to a press release.

Siemens, which does work in smart building technology and energy management, will be available to help SSM Health in its environmental sustainability efforts.

The executives wouldn't talk about the value of the deal. "We are helping SSM Health with streamlining diagnostic procedures across the 23-hospital system, and that results in significant cost savings," said Pacitti.


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