|Western Michigan University Adding Faculty to Meet Nursing Demand|
June 27, 2010/Kalamazoo Gazette
By Paula M. Davis
KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University wants to draw more nurses to its master’s program, hoping more will pursue a teaching career.
Along with boosting the number of people choosing nursing as a profession in light of a shortage of nurses, nursing leaders say there’s also a need to boost the number of instructors to teach in the state’s colleges and universities.
“A lot of the solution lies in trying to increase the existing programs,” said Linda Zoeller, director of WMU’s Bronson School of Nursing.
“We’re trying to attract students,” she said.
WMU’s relatively new master of science degree program in nursing began taking students in 2006. It has had groups of seven to nine students but could take up to 20, Zoeller said.
State officials expect a shortage of nursing instructors as the average age of faculty members is 55 in Michigan. It’s estimated there will be an overall shortage of 18,000 nurses by 2015.
“Just as we have an aging work force, we have an aging faculty,” said Zoeller, who was tapped earlier this month to serve on Michigan’s new Nurse Education Council, which was created to implement several nurse education goals.
Zoeller said she now has a hard time securing full-time educators. She said one reason is that “nurse faculty don’t make salaries as high as master’s-prepared nurses” who work as nurse practitioners, certified nurse midwives or nurse anesthetists.
And a recent development may pull down the number of nurse instructors at community colleges in the state.
Jeannette Klemczak, Michigan’s chief nurse executive, said estimates suggest 100 nursing faculty members in community colleges may have chosen to retire because of the state’s recent early-retirement incentive.
Klemczak said this development is part of a “double whammy” for nurse faculty ranks because funding for a program offering scholarship and stipend support to nurses interested in becoming teachers could be reduced or cut in 2011.
“We’re swimming upstream here but still with good support, and we are trying to move ahead,” Klemczak said.
Klemczak, who leads the Office of the Chief Nurse Executive in the Michigan Department of Community Health, said issues facing the profession are drawing attention.
The council Zoeller and other nursing leaders in the state are serving on was the recommendation of a task force on nursing education.
The council is charged with implementing other recommendations of this task force, such as a state requirement that all nursing education programs achieve national accreditation, as well as increase the number of registered nurses in advance practice, such as nurse midwives or nurse anesthetists.
Contact Paula M. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 269-388-8583.