Traverse City News and Events

Nursing Legislation Heads To House Vote

By Beth Milligan | Dec. 8, 2021

Legislation that would allow Michigan community colleges like Northwestern Michigan College to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing is headed to a House vote.

Bills introduced 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 Tuesday. The bipartisan committee support included that of State Rep. Jack O’Malley, R-Lake Ann.

In video testimony to the committee, 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.

According to a release from NMC, the legislation could receive a full House vote prior to Christmas. If not, it will be taken up in January.

NMC nursing students already perform well on licensure exams, according to the college. Scores released 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’s 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.

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