WMU, KVCC sign new degree completion plan for nursing students

Contact: Joel Krauss

Clockwise from top left: Terry Curran, Mary Lagerwey, Tim Greene, Earlie Washington, John M. Dunn and Dennis Bertch.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Administrators, alumni, faculty and staff of Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College met at WMU's College of Health and Human Services Aug.  23 to witness the formal signing of a new bachelor’s degree completion plan for nursing students at both institutions.

The agreement formalizes the relationship between the associate degree in nursing program at KVCC and the bachelor’s in nursing program at WMU, one of many long-standing relationships between the two institutions. KVCC is WMU's largest source of transfer students, with some 500 students transferring from the college to the University each year.

Under the new four-year plan, dual-enrolled nursing students will take summer classes at WMU while earning their associate degree from Kalamazoo Valley Community College. After graduating from KVCC and attaining their registered nurse—R.N.—certification, students finish their Bachelor of Science in Nursing at WMU in just one year. The four-year timespan for completion is much shorter than the traditional path for nurses.

"This agreement signifies in a real way that it’s all about students and their aspirations," said WMU President John M. Dunn at the signing ceremony. "It's about trying to find pathways to allow students to be successful.'"

"It’s a milestone in the relationship between these two institutions," said Dr. Dennis Bertch, executive vice president for instructional and student success services at KVCC. "We’re working together to produce highly educated nurses to positively impact health outcomes in our communities."

For many years, area nurses have attended KVCC, attained their R.N. certification, and joined the workforce for a number of years before going back to school for their BSN.

In today’s competitive health care market, most providers are looking for nurses who already hold bachelor’s degrees. Registered nurses are often encouraged to go back to school for their bachelor’s degree within only a few years of joining the workforce.

"We know that there is a shortage of prepared nurses across the state of Michigan," said Dr. Earlie M. Washington, dean of the WMU College of Health and Human Services. "WMU and KVCC are working diligently to address that shortage. This plan will help produce more well-prepared nurses to meet the health care needs of West Michigan and beyond."

Western Michigan University already has a similar RN-BSN agreement in place with Southwestern Michigan College, with courses offered online, as well as at its regional locations in Benton Harbor and Battle Creek.

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