By CAITLIN DeLUCA
Capital News Service
LANSING — Community colleges across the state hope to add nursing to a limited list of four-year degrees they now offer.
That list includes only culinary, maritime technology, energy technology and cement technology degrees.
Expanding that list to include nursing would help meet a growing need, said Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association.
Hospitals require nurses to have bachelor’s of science in nursing degrees (B.S.N). But community colleges can only offer an associate degree in nursing (A.D.N).
“Since 60 percent of the nurses that are working are trained at a community college and now need a bachelor’s degree, we need to be in that business to be able to supply the workforce needs of those in the healthcare industry,” Hansen said.
Hansen said one main reason to provide this program to community colleges is access.
“If the hospital is in southeast Michigan where there’s lots of access to four-year institutions, this isn’t as big of an issue or concern as it is if you’re in Traverse City or Alpena or parts of the U.P., who don’t have access to a four-year university,” Hansen said.
Figuring out how we’re going to get nurses properly trained in those parts of the state that have no university has become a challenge, Hansen said.
However, universities are pushing back on this legislation.
“There is ample access to get a B.S.N, whether it be regional or even online,” said Dan Hurley, CEO of the Michigan Association of State Universities.
Hurley said that community colleges could be hard pressed to find faculty for a four-year program.
“One of the most critical issues is finding a nurse who is qualified to teach,” Hurley said.
“You need faculty to teach in a B.S.N program, and they would make a lot more in the private sector, so it would be hard to find a teacher,” Hurley said.
Hurley said that demand is strong now for B.S.Ns, but may not be always.
“Right now, there is a strong demand for B.S.Ns, but 10 years from now, there could be a notable oversupply,” Hurley said.
Michigan hospitals have come out as supportive of the measure to allow community colleges to provide this degree.
“We support that because it gives us another avenue for staffing hospitals with highly trained individuals,” said Laura Wotruba, director of public affairs for the Michigan Hospital and Health Association.
“Ultimately, the important thing to remember is, hospitals’ focus is patient care. Part of that is nursing, so the more nurses we can train means better outcomes for patients,” Wotruba said.
Seven states have four-year programs for nurses in community colleges.
The bill allowing community colleges to offer a four-year degree was approved by the Senate Commerce Committee and is before the full Senate.
By CAITLIN DeLUCA