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The North Wind

The North Wind

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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 Wiertella April 30, 2024

Funds given to help nursing educators

State legislators recently approved grants that will provide nine Michigan public universities with the funding needed to help bridge the growing divide between registered nurses and people in need of health care.

The appropriations are a part of the Michigan Nursing Corps, which is a strategic approach created by Gov. Jennifer Granholm in 2007, to solve the nursing shortage by quickly producing more nursing educators. The statewide nursing shortage is expected to reach 18,000 unfilled nursing positions by 2015, said Jeanette Klemczak, the chief nurse executive of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH).

“The whole country is looking at this shortage, so we’re competing with other states,” she said.

According to a press release from the MDCH, nearly $5 million in state funding was appropriated to nine public universities by the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth and the MDCH. The two largest recipients of the funding were Wayne State University and Michigan State University, which received $1.8 million and $1.12 million respectively. Northern received the fourth largest allotment at $570,000.

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Klemczak said the purpose of the funding is to provide educational stipends and tuition for graduate nursing education students. She said that affordability is a major problem with getting enough people through nursing education programs.

“There is no shortage of nurses who want to be teachers or faculty, but they lack the funding,” said Klemczak. “They’re tapped out from other educational loans.”

Klemczak said that it was important to begin work on addressing this shortage of not only nurses but nursing educators because 50-75 percent of Michigan’s nursing faculty is of retirement age.

“Over 100,000 Michiganders turned 65 this year, and that trend is going to continue. As people get older, they are going to need nurses, so the demand is going to expand,” said Klemczak. “We have to have people ready.”

Julie Higbie, an associate professor of nursing at Northern, said the grant, which at NMU will provide each student in the nursing education program with $5,700 for tuition and a $25,000 yearly stipend, is a good investment.

“Gov. Granholm is trying to invest this money into the future health care needs of our people, and this is an excellent way to do it,” she said.

NMU’s nursing education program is online, and this year eight students went through the program. All of the entrants are students with a master’s degree in nursing who are seeking a nursing education certification, which will allow them to work as nursing educational faculty or clinical instructors.

Higbie said that they expect to have 15 students enrolled next year, and that all 15 students will receive the tuition coverage and the stipend.

However, there’s one catch. Anyone who receives the money must sign a legal contract stipulating that they will teach nursing for five years in Michigan.

Higbie said that the grant will help students by providing them with the stipend so that they don’t have to try and work a full-time job while in the program.

“The idea is to have them cut back on work so that they can concentrate on the program,” said Higbie.

Margaret Cazzola-Roberts, a student who completed the post-graduate nursing education program, said that the $25,000 stipend will serve as a great incentive for people to participate in the program because it will allow them economic freedom so that they can dedicate more time to their schoolwork.

“The stipend makes it possible for people to consider this as an option,” Cazzola-Roberts said.

The ability to keep these nursing educators in the state for at least five years will help to ensure that Michigan will have enough nurses for the future, Cazzola-Roberts said.

“In order to provide appropriate care in the U.P., you need to have enough instructors to train nursing students.”

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