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School of Nursing to Open a Third Cohort to Address Industry Shortage

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The School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions at Ferris State University is opening a third cohort, creating more opportunities for nursing students, in response to workforce demands and nursing shortages

The American Association of Colleges Nursing projects the U.S. will experience a shortage of registered nurses that could increase as Baby Boomers age and present a greater need for healthcare. Anticipating this shortage, Ferris State University is responding by opening the third cohort in its prelicensure program.

The goal of the third cohort is responsiveness to workforce demands and nursing shortages. Annually, Ferris typically accepts 64 students. That acceptance will increase to 96 for Ferris’ five-semester program, which is shorter and faster to completion than many of its competitors, with summer classes included.

“Ferris Nursing has a long history of producing highly qualified nurses for Michigan’s healthcare workforce. It is difficult to access healthcare services in West Michigan without running into a Ferris Bulldog making a difference in the community,” said Lincoln Gibbs, dean of Ferris’ College of Health Professions. “However, the recent pandemic has significantly strained the nursing workforce, causing staffing shortages in Michigan hospitals throughout the state.”

Gibbs noted the expanded Nursing program provides an opportunity for Ferris to diversify, which helps diversify the Nursing workforce.

“Not only will we increase the supply of highly qualified BSN-prepared nurses to work the front-line in the state, but we are making intentional efforts to recruit underrepresented high school and college students to the profession,” he said. “In partnership with the Grand Rapids African American Health Institute’s (GRAAHI) ‘Pathways to Healthcare’ initiative, the College of Health Professions at Ferris State University aims to recruit, educate and graduate a diverse student body to join Michigan’s healthcare workforce, especially in Nursing. We expect our first college GRAAHI cohort to begin their studies this fall (2022).”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment projections from 2019-29 list registered nursing among the top occupations in job growth. In 2029, the registered nurse workforce will grow from three million to 3.3 million, a seven percent increase, according to the report.

“Opening the third cohort allows the School of Nursing not only to impact the healthcare workforce and nursing shortage but also to decrease the wait time for students who want to pursue the BSN program,” said Wendy Lenon, chair of the School of Nursing. “The School of Nursing is excited for the opportunity to expand our program and to do our part in working to decrease the nursing shortage.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics further expects 175,900 openings for RNs each year, through 2029, because of nursing retirements and other workforce departures. The School of Nursing has listened and responded to student feedback.

“The new addition of the summer cohort to our BSN program has been a blessing to me and my family,” said Amanda Knapp, a third-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing major from Sand Lake. “I am excited to start my journey as a Nursing student and be part of this maiden class. My wait to start the program was shortened by a semester. And I will now graduate a whole calendar year earlier. Thanks to Ferris, my ‘eventually’ has become my ‘right now.’”

A 2018 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, conducted by the Health Resources and Services Administration, showed that the average age for an RN is 50, possibly signaling many retirements during the next 15 years. Therefore, decreasing the waitlist time for students, which could be as long as two years, was a point of emphasis addressed by this expansion.

“Once a student is qualified or meets the prerequisites to our Nursing program, students have typically waited a year or so to start the program,” said Theresa Raglin, associate dean of the College of Health Professions. “With the addition of this new summer cohort of 32 students, the wait has decreased, and we are excited that we have been able to offer admission to the fall, spring or summer cohort for the next academic year.”

Visit the School of Nursing in the College of Health Professions at Ferris State University for more information.