Legislation to allow community colleges to award BSNs advances

TRAVERSE CITY — Legislation to allow Michigan community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing moved forward Tuesday, putting NMC another step closer to helping fill hundreds of staff shortages at Munson Medical Center, among other hospitals.

The BSN bills, introduced last month by state representatives John Roth, R-Traverse City, and John Damoose, R-Harbor Springs, advanced from the House Education Committee to the full House on a vote of 8-2-2. The bipartisan committee support included that of State Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann.

In video testimony to the committee last month, Munson Healthcare CEO Ed Ness said the legislation is “critical” to Munson’s ability to serve half a million northern Michigan residents. As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, Traverse City’s Munson Medical Center, the largest of the system’s nine hospitals, is short nearly 200 bedside nurses, Ness said.

“Now, more than ever, we need to do everything we can to encourage new students to enter the nursing profession and remove barriers for degree and career advancement,” he said.

It is possible that the legislation would receive a full House vote prior to Christmas. If not, it will be taken up in January.

In 2012, BSNs were originally part of a bill that permitted a few community college bachelor’s degrees to be awarded. They wound up being stripped due to opposition from four-year colleges and universities.

NMC went on to become the first community college in the state to offer a bachelor’s degree, in maritime technology. A decade on, it’s imperative to add BSNs, said NMC president Nick Nissley.

“Community colleges like NMC play a very pivotal role in addressing the need for more health care workers in the communities that we serve,” he said at a Nov. 10 news conference announcing the introduction of the legislation.

NMC nursing students already perform well on licensure exams. Scores released just last month showed that for the second year in a row, more than 90 percent of NMC nursing students pass the national NCLEX exam required to obtain an RN license. That exceeds both state and national averages, most recently 83 percent.

Ness said Munson hires more than 100 nurses per year with an associate degree. The goal is that 80 percent earn their BSN. Currently, only 50 to 60 percent do.

“This legislation would allow our existing workforce the access and convenience they need. And making BSN degrees more accessible and affordable would not only support our existing nurses, but will also help increase the talent pipeline of new nurses,” Ness said.

Visit nmc.edu/bsn to learn how to advocate for the legislation, House Bills 5556 and 5557.

Release date: December 7, 2021

For more information:

Diana Fairbanks
Associate Vice President of Public Relations, Marketing and Communications
dfairbanks@nmc.edu
(231) 995-1019

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