June 21, 2022
Like many states in the U.S., Michigan faces a desperate shortage of nurses. In order to meet health-care demands, officials project the state will need an additional 6,620 registered nurses every year from now until 2028.
“I haven’t talked to a single health-care employer that doesn’t say, ‘We would hire hundreds of nurses yesterday,’” said Brandy Johnson, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “The openings are massive and pretty acute. Nurses drive over from Ontario and Windsor, Canada, every day to [work] in Michigan. So we’re recruiting internationally when I think there’s a strong agreement that we should be recruiting and building the pipeline with Michiganders themselves.”
That’s why the MCCA and three other organizations—the Michigan Association of State Universities, Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Michigan Health and Hospital Association—have developed a new partnership that aims to graduate more nurses from state institutions.
The plan, announced June 1, would allow students to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (B.S.N.) at a community college rather than transfer to a four-year college or university campus to complete their degree. The organizations are asking the Michigan state Legislature for $56 million to fund the program, which includes up to $2 million in grants for community colleges. Johnson said she hopes the plan will officially launch in fall 2023.
Allowing students to obtain a bachelor’s degree from a community college represents a big shift, Johnson said.
“It’s been this really hyper-divisive, political hot potato around this idea of whether Michigan’s community colleges should be able to confer baccalaureate degrees,” Johnson said. “And what this proposal does is it sort of extracts that political question from a policy or statutory perspective, and it really allows the community colleges and universities to work together, leveraging all of their assets.”