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UMH-West, GRCC team up to create pipeline of local nursing talent

The University of Michigan Health-West and Grand Rapids Community College partnered to provide tuition assistance to help fix the nursing shortage.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There is a critical shortage of nurses in the U.S. While their numbers continue to decline, the need for them continues to grow. 

"There was a brewing nursing shortage before COVID happened. I think COVID accelerated a lot of things. It was extremely stressful and hard on our nursing profession." Steve Polega is the Chief Nursing Officer with the University of Michigan Health West. He says their nursing staff was down nearly 15% before COVID and it's continued to decline since.

UMHW and Grand Rapids Community College's Nursing Program developed a new partnership to help solve that problem with a tuition assistance program for student nurses. 

Michelle Richter, GRCC Nursing Program Director, said the program is a great extension of the school’s approach to nursing education, which combines classroom instruction with clinical applications.

“We are proud of the success rate of our students, and this should help open doors to more of them,” Richter said. “Assisting students with tuition allows them to focus on completing their education, and ultimately enter the workplace more quickly and better prepared. The opportunity for employment upon graduation allows students to be able to serve the community in a rewarding career, and continue adding skills and advancing their education.”

The tuition assistance pays for three semesters of nursing school at GRCC while giving nursing students paid on-the-job experience. University of Michigan Health West hopes to employ 10 to 15 nurses each semester.

"The nursing students that will be eligible for this program will be in their second, third or fourth semester of nursing school with tuition assistance and paid nursing experience.", Kate Veenstra is the Associate Chief Nursing Officer at University of Michigan Health West she adds that the nursing students help to bring diverse experiences to UMHW which helps to enhance the nursing profession.

It's one way the West Michigan Medical Community is working together to continue to provide quality healthcare now and in the future, "We want them to go into nursing and, and grow, you know, you start with that associate's degree, and then we help you get a bachelor's degree. And then if Master's does after that, if that's what you're pursuing." says Polega.

The Grand Rapids Community College tuition assistance and paid nursing experience program are funded by a grant from the University of Michigan Health West Foundation.

Interested GRCC nursing students can use this link to apply: https://grcc.academicworks.com/users/sign_in

or scan the QR Code below. 

Credit: UMHW

13 On Your Side Health Reporter Valerie Lego 

Val has been reporting on health and medical stories in West Michigan for 16 years. She is an 18-time Emmy Award Winner. Her health reporting credentials include fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Health Care Journalists

Contact me: vallego@13OnYourSide.com

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