WMU News

New master's degree in nursing approved

Dec. 10, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Area nurses who have completed undergraduate degrees now have a new option to further their education--a master's degree in nursing.

Acting at its Dec. 10 meeting, the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees approved offering a master of science in nursing degree, effective in fall 2005. The move completes plans to offer such a degree since the WMU Bronson School of Nursing was established in 1994.

Funding for the graduate program was set aside when the nursing school was founded and has been held in escrow. That money, along with earnings from a major endowment designated for the school's operating costs, as well as other scholarship endowments and gifts, will pay for the new program and the hiring of two additional faculty members.

"The new degree program will meet the urgent demand for nurse faculty and clinical nurse leaders and managers in the Southwest Michigan area," says Dr. Marie Gates, the nursing school's director. "In this era of tremendous nursing shortages, especially for nursing faculty, WMU will provide excellent graduate level education for nurses seeking advanced career opportunities."

Recent surveys conducted in fall 2002 show the new program will be well received by both prospective students and employers in the area. A mail survey of 2,000 registered nurses in a six-county area surrounding Kalamazoo showed a strong desire among potential applicants to pursue a graduate degree in nursing. In addition, a telephone survey of 161 potential employers within the same area demonstrated a high interest in hiring MSN graduates.

Area community colleges, hospitals and health care agencies also support the new program. The nursing school's Community Advisory Board, which includes directors of the six community colleges surrounding WMU, and key representatives from major hospitals, home care agencies, health departments and other university and community representatives, has given strong support.

A task force has spent the past three years planning for and developing the new program to meet requirements of accrediting and licensing bodies and address the current and future need for nursing leaders. The task force worked in tandem with the entire school's faculty in a simultaneous revision of the undergraduate nursing program so the two programs complement each other and serve their respective audiences efficiently.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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