Letter: The battle for nurse educators heats up

Re: Kim Kozlowski’s April 4 report “Battle breaks out in Mich. on nursing degrees”: Many of the points made in this article are simply wrong.

For example, one claim tried to indicate fully half of a baccalaureate nursing degree was dedicated to “general education, critical thinking and ethics.” That is simply not true.

Our members work to ensure students get the hands-on training and skills they need to be effective. These experiences are particularly intense during years two, three and four of our nursing programs.

The article also says money is the primary driver for colleges and universities’ views on this issue. Not so.

While costs are important — and taxpayers should be certain to know what they are — one of our primary considerations is an ongoing nurse educator shortage. This shortage would be exacerbated by the proposal described, and would ultimately result in negative outcomes — including higher education costs and negative patient results.

The battle for talented nurse educators is heating up, and adding 28 more programs to the mix isn’t going to help. Not only will student and taxpayer costs increase, but we can also expect some less-qualified nurse educators will be brought in to fill critical vacancies, resulting in reduced learning outcomes among those we rely upon to care for Michigan patients.

What’s more, permitting community colleges to award baccalaureate degrees in nursing will worsen an already-existing bottleneck in nursing education. In addition to finding an appropriate pool of faculty, we’ll also face a reduced number of high-demand clinical sites, a lack of specialty care placements, and continuing budget constraints.

Today’s nursing students have many affordable, high-quality choices available to them. The notion that we need community colleges involved in providing four-year baccalaureate nursing degrees is a solution looking for a problem.

Robert LeFevre, president

Michigan Independent Colleges & Universities