The Student News Site of Northern Michigan University

The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

Meet the Staff
Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
News Editor

I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

The North Wind Editorial Sessions
About us

The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Nursing on the rise as economy declines

With headlines that proclaim the woes of working-class America, and Michigan’s state unemployment rate reaching record highs, most Northern graduates are looking at a dismal job market. But as other graduates scramble to find a job within their majors, NMU nursing students will find themselves well-suited to locate work in this ailing economy.

“Health care is always a great field to get a job in (during) economically hard times,” said Kerri Schuiling associate dean and director of the School of Nursing. “Nursing offers a good job at a decent salary. It lets you support a family.”

And though nurses are always needed, a national nursing shortage has ensured that most students in NMU’s nursing department will graduate with confidence that they will find a job in their field.

According to statistics compiled by NMU’s Career Services Office, since 1998, 96.6 percent of people who graduated from NMU’s Bachelor’s of Science Nursing (BSN) program are currently employed, with 75 percent of them working in Michigan.

Story continues below advertisement

Schuiling said that usually the only people who graduate from Northern with degrees or certificates in nursing who don’t procure jobs as nurses are people who don’t wish to go into the profession anymore.

“(Our employment rate) is virtually 100 percent,” she said. “People aren’t employed (as nurses) because they didn’t want to be.”

Northern’s nursing program focuses on two types of nurses, registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs). To become an LPN, students attend NMU in a certificate program for one year before taking the NCLEX, a national nursing exam, to receive a license. To become an RN, students attend NMU for four years and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, before taking the NCLEX to receive a license. Without the license, neither an LPN nor an RN can practice.

NMU’s nursing students have the highest passing rate for the state of Michigan on the NCLEX, at 95 percent. The passing rate nationwide is 80 percent and the state of Michigan’s is 86.9 percent.

Though most professions are in a downward spiral as far as job growth, nursing is one of the few on the rise. According to a fact sheet compiled by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, an increase of 23.5 percent in new nursing jobs is expected by 2016, making nursing the nation’s top profession in terms of job growth.

The problem with this growth is that there aren’t enough nurses to fill the new positions. New jobs are becoming available too quickly. The increasing demand for nurses can be explained by a variety of reasons, such as a higher national life expectancy and advancements in health care.

“People are living longer,” Schuiling said. “There is a greater population of seniors, and they need health care . (Also) people are sicker. They have a greater acuity level. They require more intensive types of care . Sometimes, it’s necessary to have two nurses for one patient.”

And though the demand for nurses is rising, the amount of new nurses to appear in the medical field is not keeping pace.

Schuiling said one reason for this problem can be traced back through several decades. The role of nurses has been traditionally a female one, and though male nurses have become more prevalent, the numbers still pale in comparison to female nurses. According to the Michigan Center for Nursing, only 4.5 percent of active nurses in Michigan are male.

“Women had few choices (in the past),” Schuiling said. “They could be a nurse, a school teacher, a stewardess. Now, they have lots of options, many of which pay better.”

Other reasons for the national shortage include a large aging population, as well as an aging nursing population. According to the Michigan Center for Nursing, in Michigan, 30.7 percent of practicing RNs and 39.2 of LPNs are age 55 or older.

NMU’s nursing department has seen an increasing interest in the last three to four years, Schuiling said, but they are unable to accept more than 90 students per academic year because of mandated student to faculty ratios.

“We can’t have more than 10 students to one faculty,” Schuiling said. “So, we’d have to increase the faculty to increase the students.”

The department accepts 50 students in the fall semester, and 40 in the spring.

More to Discover