Traverse City News and Events

NMC Announces Davenport University As Partner For New Nursing Bachelor's Degree

By Craig Manning | Feb. 9, 2023

Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) announced Wednesday that it has chosen Davenport University as its “exclusive partner” for a program that will give local students a new pathway toward earning bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees. The program, which comes after a lengthy legislative battle where community colleges throughout Michigan implored the state to allow them to offer BSN degrees, will officially start in May.

The new nursing offering, described in a joint press release from NMC and Davenport as a “first-of-its-kind BSN program,” will give NMC nursing students a structured pathway to earn a BSN right here in Traverse City. Program students would be enrolled for two years at NMC and complete their degree with a third year also spent locally, but as Davenport students. NMC and Davenport say the structure “gives nursing students a faster, less expensive path to a BSN” than what has previously existed in northern Michigan.

While NMC has long offered an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), state law prohibits community colleges in Michigan from offering most types of bachelor’s degrees. In recent years, NMC and other community colleges in the state – with strong support from Munson Healthcare and other entities – have pushed the state to change that law. In particular, NMC and Munson argued that making BSN offerings available at community colleges would help address Michigan’s nursing shortage, especially in rural areas.

Last summer, Michigan lawmakers passed legislation that allowed community colleges like NMC to partner with four-year colleges or universities within the state of Michigan to create “BSN completion programs.” NMC responded quickly to that legislative shift, issuing a request for proposals to potential BSN partners in mid-October of last year. Nine universities ultimately submitted proposals for partnerships with NMC.

NMC chose Davenport in part because of the university’s willingness to offer on-the-ground program support locally in Traverse City. Speaking to Ticker sister publication the Traverse City Business News last fall, NMC Communications Director Cari Noga said that keeping the program as local as possible was one of NMC’s criteria as it searched for a partner. “The plan is to have students be able to complete their coursework in Traverse City,” she said. “That is something that our local students have requested and will be important for us to implement.  A goal is to have local representation so that the students truly feel a part of the university partner. Additionally, [the partner university’s] faculty will be local to allow for improved communication, retention, and accessibility.”

Per the NMC-Davenport press release, Davenport will offer significant “student support” in Traverse City to make it possible for students to complete their third year of study locally. “One of the big differences [with Davenport] will be the level of support we’ll be able to provide students,” NMC Director of Nursing Tamella Livengood said about why Davenport was chosen as BSN partner. “I think retention and completion will improve.” As part of NMC’s University Center, Davenport has long been an NMC partner with a local presence.

The first graduates of the new pathway will be students who have already gone through the ADN program at NMC. NMC in the past two years has graduated 91 ADN students. Munson currently employs 64 of them, but has a requirement that ADN nurses earn a BSN within five years of being hired. The NMC-Davenport press release highlighted the story of Haven Hall, a 20-year old NMC nursing who will graduate with her ADN in May. Hall already works as a nurse technician in the Munson Medical Center emergency department, and will continue to work there while also starting work on her BSN as part of NMC and Davenport’s first BSN cohort. Hall and other members of that first cohort will graduate with their BSNs in 2024.

Ed Ness, president and CEO of Munson Healthcare, praised the new partnership program as "a new tool to support replenishing our healthcare talent pipeline."

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