UAA helps Anchorage build workforce capacity

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed Alaskans’ lives and impacted our economy in ways we never could have imagined, leaving many people unemployed and struggling financially.

The Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports Alaska’s job count was down 12.2% in May from the same month last year, a loss of more than 42,000 jobs.

Some jobs have been impossible to perform during the pandemic due to workplace restrictions on in-person staffing. Demand for other services has dwindled as Anchorage residents limit their activities to those deemed essential, such as purchasing groceries and household supplies.

Even in the midst of the pandemic, new job opportunities have unexpectedly emerged, particularly in the health care sector. The need for skilled contact tracing investigators to identify individuals exposed to COVID-19 has skyrocketed. Other jobs, such as those in the IT sector, have remained in demand; hiring increases in other sectors are likely to be needed as organizations across the state reopen.

At the University of Alaska Anchorage, university leaders have been listening to feedback from industry partners and state and local officials regarding real-time employment needs.

Read the full article here.

Source: UAA helps Anchorage build workforce capacity – Anchorage Press

On the frontlines

UAA alumna Greer Gehler, graduated from UAA’s School of Nursing in December 2018 with a bachelor’s of science in nursing science and is currently working in Providence Alaska Medical Center’s emergency room. (Photo courtesy, Greer Gehler)

When nursing alumna Greer Gehler graduated from UAA in December 2018, she could have never predicted the whirlwind that would be her first two years of nursing. Gehler received her first bachelor’s in history of art and architecture from Brown University and spent nearly a decade working in Alaska’s political scene. Through her various roles, she saw firsthand how important health care is, especially in a state like Alaska where the vast landscape makes providing health care challenging. She decided rather than work in a job where she helped make health care policy, she wanted to be in the middle of it — actually working with and interacting with patients.

Initially, she started down the pre-med route but ended up focusing on nursing, returning to school to pursue her second bachelor’s in nursing through UAA’s School of Nursing.

“UAA was very affordable, convenient and there wasn’t a wait list anymore when I applied, so I was able to apply right away,” Gehler said. “One of the big selling points was as a nursing student when you do your clinicals, you do them in the hospitals in Anchorage. So you get that exposure to people you may work with one day and you get to meet some of the managers — it’s sort of like a pre-job interview — you build those professional relationships, which makes it much easier when you go to apply for a job.”

Gehler knew she wanted to stay in Alaska and ideally work at Providence Alaska Medical Center (PAMC), so getting her foot in the door with her potential future employer during her nursing clinicals was crucial in securing a job post-graduation. She said occasionally, PAMC offers a new nursing residency, a program where the organization hires new nursing graduates, placing them with various departments within the hospital for training — and one of those happened to be the emergency room (ER). For Gehler, graduation, taking her National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), the nationwide nursing licensing exam and the new nursing residency program serendipitously lined up, helping her land a position in PAMC’s ER. She had previous experience in the ER during one of her clinical rotations in school and fell in love with the fast-paced, day-to-day life there and was thrilled she essentially landed her dream job straight out of nursing school.

Read the full article here.

Source: On the frontlines – UAA Green and Gold

Alaska’s SHARP Program Announcement


Alaska’s SHARP Program is our statewide support-for-service effort to provide financial support to a practitioner other than his or her standard wage and benefit.  It is a public-private partnership working to improve the recruitment, retention and distribution of health professionals for Alaska.

SHARP-1 began in 2010 and is our fundamental option.  SHARP-1 service contracts provide education loan repayment, largely for outpatient generalist practitioners providing care in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).  SHARP-1 is based on the state’s receipt of competitive HRSA partnership grants from the federal State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), of which we have now won four.  All SHARP-1 contracts are at least 50 percent HRSA-funded, with the other 50 percent derived from varied non-federal sources, including employers and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

For key details, go here.


SHARP-1 contracts provide education loan repayments, and are largely focused on outpatient generalist practitioners who provide care to underserved populations.  Behavioral health, dental and primary care medical practitioners are all welcome to apply.  Applications are welcome from both practitioners and employers, and each entity can apply separately even if they do not yet have an “employment partner.”  We estimate that about 100 new SHARP service contracts will be competitively issued to eligible clinicians.

As well, those clinicians who have previously received a SHARP service contract are welcome to reapply.  The key issue is current service obligations must be avoided.  That is, this potential SHARP-1 contract period must not overlap with either another SHARP contract, nor any other service obligation, like the National Health Service Corp or the Indian Health Service Loan Repayment Program.


The SHARP-1 opportunity is only practitioners providing care in federally designated Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs).  There are mental health, dental and primary care HPSAs, and SHARP is interested in enhancing practitioner capacity in all three.  Anyone can use the handy web-based federal search engine to review the many available HPSA locations.  To do so, check the following federal web-link:

In addition, know that Alaska has just received several new HPSA designations for the Anchorage and the Mat-Su Boroughs.  For information about these key new HPSA designations in mental health, dental and primary care medical, see the public notices here.


Opening:  The window for applications will be open from May 1st thru July 10th.

Decisions:  Alaska’s SHARP Council will decide award priorities during publicly noticed meeting(s) in August 2020.

Contracts:  The first of the new SHARP contracts are planned to start as early as September 2020.

Duration:  All SHARP-1 contracts are for a minimum of two years (24 months).


All needed application information and forms will be available on the SHARP’s web homepage.



All questions about this application cycle, or the applications themselves, should be posed via email to:

All general or other questions as regards SHARP, or other opportunities, should be emailed to


For technical assistance, statewide teleconferences are scheduled for interested parties to learn more about this SHARP-1 opportunity.  These teleconferences are optional, and any interested party can call-in.  In general, content repeats on the following dates.

Call 888-392-4560 then dial code 5818485#

o   Friday 5/29:  11:00-12:00

o   Friday 6/12:  11:00-12:00

o   Friday 6/26:  11:00-12:00

o   Friday 7/10:  11:00-12:00

Source: Alaska DHSS SHARP Program

UAA graduates some nursing students early so they can help out during pandemic

UAA School of Nursing student Krysta Byford checks vital signs on actor Danny Ashton Earll as he portrays a patient about to be discharged during a simulated patient care scenario in UAA’s Health Sciences Building Simulation Center. (James R. Evans/University of Alaska Anchorage)

With the coronavirus pandemic increasing pressure on hospitals and demand for health care workers, a handful of new nurses will be launching into the field from the University of Alaska Anchorage.

UAA’s School of Nursing recently graduated some senior students a few weeks early, allowing them to move into the health care workforce right away. The School of Nursing and College of Health offered a chance for up to 72 students in the bachelor’s and associate’s programs in good academic standing the chance to finish their last few credits on a faster timeline.

Read the full article here.

Source: UAA graduates some nursing students early so they can help out during pandemic – Anchorage Daily News

UAF School of Education to ensure graduates are prepared for distance learning

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce continues to conduct its weekly business luncheons online. Tuesday’s topic: preparing teachers for Alaska’s future at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Education.

School of Education director at UAF, Amy Vinlove, discussed initiatives for the program, including recruiting and supporting Alaska Native students pursuing teaching degrees.

“We are currently at the mid-point in a nine [to] 10-year grant partnership, with some external funding from a philanthropic organization, to really try to build up those strategies and those support systems and consolidate them,” Vinlove said. “This has been area where UAF has been on the forefront for almost 50 years.”

Adapting to the changing times was a topic as well. The school of education is looking to better prepare their graduates for distance learning, as many teachers and students are experiencing right now through digital and assignment-based activities.

Read the article here.

Source: UAF School of Education to ensure graduates are prepared for distance learning – KTVF