Healthcare leaders to use video game for recruitment, offer insight into rural healthcare

SAUK CITY, Wis.— It’s a video game parents may actually want their kids to play and soon it will be introduced to high schools across Wisconsin.

Rural Roads to Health Careers is a collaboration between technology, healthcare and education experts to expose players to real-life scenarios in rural healthcare.

Founder of Acme Nerd Games Mary Romolino said the game is a new approach to recruitment and getting kids interested in rural health careers early.

“I thought it would be a great idea,” Romolino said. “While companies are looking for employees and their struggling and fighting each other for employees, let’s see if we can create some games that help attract, young people into these companies.”

Through the game, players can respond to 911 calls and roleplay careers like a paramedic, doctor, and other non-patient-facing jobs in administration without the risk or commitment.

Jo Anne Preston, the workforce and organizational development senior manager at Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative, said the game focuses specifically on rural communities because even pre-pandemic they struggled to recruit and retain staff.

“Not everybody wants to live and work there but there are great things happening in rural Wisconsin healthcare,” Preston said. “You’re involved in patient care from birth to death and everything in between.”

The video game will eventually be available for free to all Wisconsin schools but the initial rollout will focus on rural high schools with Area Health Education Centers. The first of which will be in the village of Amherst in October.