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Nursing director to help reshape nursing education

June 16, 2010

KALAMAZOO--The director of Western Michigan University's Bronson School of Nursing has been appointed to a new state board charged with transforming nursing education in Michigan.

Dr. Linda H. Zoeller is one of 17 people appointed to the recently established Michigan Nursing Education Council, a leadership group composed of nursing educators, nursing practitioners and policy makers who will act as an advisory board in the face of what is predicted to be a severe nursing shortage facing Michigan.

The council was established by the Office of the Chief Nurse Executive within the Michigan Department of Community Health and will ensure that recommendations by the department's Task Force on Nursing Education are implemented. Those recommendations include creating a system of nurse residency programs in Michigan for all newly licensed graduates, giving high priority to quality and safety in all nursing education programs and increasing the number of registered nurses educated in the state.

The growing nursing shortage is widely recognized as a looming public health crisis in Michigan. There are a total of 156,161 nurses licensed in the state, but there will be a shortage of 18,000 nurses by 2015. More nursing faculty, whose average age in Michigan is 55 years old, also will be retiring, causing a shortage of instructors. In fact, many Michigan nursing schools report more than half of their faculty members are eligible to retire today.

"There can be no more a critical time for the effective work of the Michigan Nursing Education Council," said Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. "We must have a new generation of nurses prepared for practice in a time of massive demand for care of the aging baby boomers."

While the council works to increase the number of nurses in Michigan, quality and safety will remain the top priority in patient care, says Jeanette Klemczak, chief nurse executive.

"This council will help create a path to bring more national public and private resources to our work in Michigan," Klemczak says.

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

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