Winona State addresses counselor shortage

Kalli O, News Reporter

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During the 2019 fall semester, Winona State University faced a shortage in counselors, resulting in students not being able to meet with a counselor, forcing them being put on a waiting list. This issue has been addressed; at the end of February, Winona State University will have two new counselors starting to meet with students.

Serena Bohn, one of the new counselors, starts Jan. 27. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Stout, and did her internship through University of Saint Mary’s, familiarizing her with the Winona area.

Kateri Johnson, interim director of counseling, is looking forward to Bohn starting at Winona State University.

“She’s very energetic and passionate and she has so much respect for Winona State and has been wanting to work here for a while, so I think she’s going to bring a great approach to counseling here and be a really good addition to our team,” Johnson said.

Winona State is also bringing in an emergency hire for spring semester. Nancy Miller starts on Feb. 3, and has previously worked as an intern at Winona State. She now has her own private practice in La Crosse, Wisconsin, and will be helping out at Winona State for just a short amount of time.

According to Johnson, the goal for these two new hires is to provide relief for the rest of the counseling staff, as well as to help take on the waiting list.

“They will provide some relief, but our schedules are still going to be full, they’re always going to be full and it’s very unpredictable,” Johnson said.

The lack of counselors put a strain on the entire counseling staff, causing longer workdays, missed breaks and lunches and an absolutely packed schedule for all of those on the counseling team as they struggle to meet the needs of all Winona State students.

In lieu of the waiting list, a new limit of six sessions per student per semester is going to be put into action starting this semester. The counseling team finds it important to get the students in, attack problems and issues head on and if further attention is needed after those six sessions, off-campus help is recommended.

More details of this plan include the student being able to choose how they would like to split up their six sessions throughout the semester, such as if they would prefer to do six sessions in six weeks to get it done, or if they would like to space them out a bit more.