A strategic partnership signed today in Mount Pleasant opens doors at Central Michigan University for future nurses.
CMU is teaming up with Mid Michigan College to create a unique start-to-finish pathway to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. CMU also offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program.
"We want students who want to be nurses to come to CMU," said Kechi Iheduru-Anderson, director of nursing in CMU's Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions. "Now they can."
The partnership also promises to create a new source of skilled nurses ready to meet needs in mid-Michigan.
"There is such a nursing shortage and the projection is that it will continue," said Barbara Wieszciecinski, dean of health sciences and director of nursing at Mid Michigan College. "This partnership will allow our CMU graduates to come to Mid, get their associate degree in nursing, pass their state licensure exam and start working right away to help with the nursing shortage."
Representatives from Central Michigan University and Mid Michigan College sign a partnership to create a new source of skilled nurses in Mid Michigan. Front Row (L to R): Tim Hood, Mid Michigan College president; Mary C. Schutten, CMU provost/executive vice president. Back Row (L to R): Barbara Wieszcienski, Mid Michigan College dean of health sciences & director of Nursing; Scott Mertes, Mid Michigan College vice president of academic affairs & community outreach; Tom Masterson, dean, CMU Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions; Kechinyere C. Iheduru-Anderson, Director, CMU nursing program.
The program has three phases:
- Two semesters attending CMU.
- Four semesters attending Mid Michigan College's Harrison Campus, about 30 miles north of Mount Pleasant, or Mount Pleasant Campus, at Summerton Road and Broadway. During this time, students may take summer courses at CMU.
- Ten to 18 months of CMU courses online.
All academic credits will transfer between the institutions.
Phases one and two are in-person to allow for lab work and clinical experiences.
Students who successfully complete phase two will earn their associate degree in nursing from Mid and can work as a registered nurse while completing phase three.
Students can complete their RN and BSN degree in four and a half to five years — possibly less if they begin the program with transfer credits.
"This program is a great opportunity for students to get two nursing degrees in as little as four years, making them more competitive in the marketplace," said CHP Dean Tom Masterson.
Mid will guarantee enough space for qualifying CMU students — 15 seats each spring and fall to begin with. Iheduru-Anderson said the program can accommodate as many students as are interested and qualify. While it launches officially this fall, Iheduru-Anderson said three students are already informally in phase two.
Brittany Walrath of Alma, Michigan, is one of them. The emergency medical technician for Montcalm County Emergency Services will begin nursing classes at Mid in the fall, having earned CMU bachelor's degrees in psychology in May 2015 and neuroscience in December 2020. Her phase three at CMU will begin in 2023.
"This is a great stepping stone for those looking to get their BSN," she said of the partnership. "It will give me an opportunity to find jobs that I thoroughly enjoy doing."
Walrath's end goal is to be a nurse practitioner in emergency medicine or pediatrics. She said she'll go where her degree leads her but would like to stay in mid-Michigan.
Meeting a need
When CMU launched its RN-to-BSN program in 2019, Iheduru-Anderson said many applicants wanted to earn a CMU nursing degree but did not qualify because they were not already RNs.
"I reached out to Mid Michigan College and presented this partnership idea to them, which we felt would benefit both institutions and students, who could pursue the career that they wanted," she said.
At a time when nurses are in short supply nationally and locally, she said the partnership also benefits mid-Michigan. Nursing students do clinical work in the community, learn about it and build trusting relationships. When they graduate, they usually enter the local workforce.
"They bring what they learn back into the community," Iheduru-Anderson said. "They understand the needs in our communities."
Masterson calls it a great example of CMU fulfilling its medical mission: "We are training quality health care providers for underserved populations in Michigan."