Pictured from left to right are Dr. Barbara Given of Michigan State University and Dr. Susan Dunn of Hope College.

A partnership between Hope College and Michigan State University focused on encouraging BSN nursing graduates to pursue doctoral education has received a “Building Michigan’s Health Care Workforce Award” from the Michigan Health Council.

The award, in the category of “Training and Education Strategies,” was presented to Dr. Susan Dunn (Hope) and Drs. Barbara Given and Mary Mundt (MSU) during the organization’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the University Club in East Lansing.

“Hope College’s Department of Nursing has developed a program to address one of the most critical bottlenecks in nursing education: the lack of qualified faculty to train future nurses,” said Anne Rosewarne, president and CEO of the Michigan Health Council.  “Training enough nurses is critical to providing high-quality care to meet the dual challenges of an aging workforce and expanded health care access.”

The Hope-MSU partnership, established in 2009, encourages talented nursing students at Hope to pursue doctoral education in the accelerated BSN to Ph.D. nursing program at MSU, with MSU designating a minimum of two seats in the fast-track program each year for qualified applicants from Hope.  The goal is to develop a larger pool of highly qualified nurse researchers and educators.

While at Hope, senior-level nursing students at the college can elect to enroll in a pre-graduate school seminar that focuses on advanced nursing roles, reflecting on the various graduate nursing programs available, and developing a statement of research interest and goals.  Faculty advising is available and recruitment open houses are held to help interested students prepare for the application process and transition to MSU.

Students who are accepted into the BSN to Ph.D. program take one year of master’s-level coursework prior to beginning their doctoral studies and continue to receive mentoring from Hope and MSU faculty throughout the program.

The department of nursing at Hope began in 2002, although nursing education at the college goes back another two decades.  From 1982 through 2003, Hope and Calvin College operated a nursing program jointly before creating their own, independent programs.

The program is approved by the Michigan Board of Nursing and is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Students begin studies in the program as sophomores based on completion of prerequisite classes as freshmen.  The major includes coursework on campus as well as multiple field placements, the latter spread across six specialty practicum courses, a research practicum, a family health course and an internship.  Area clinical sites have included Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Holland Hospital, the Ottawa County Health Department, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Spectrum Health and Zeeland Hospital.

Hope College Nursing is among the select group of programs nationwide whose graduates achieved a 100-percent pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) during 2011-12 (December and May).  One-hundred percent of the program’s graduates also passed on the first attempt the previous year.  According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing’s program report, only six percent of all nursing-education programs nationwide achieved a 100-percent pass rate between April 2011 and March 2012.

The Michigan Health Council is an Okemos-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to connecting health care professionals with jobs, promote health care education, and solving the challenges facing Michigan’s health care employers and practitioners.  In addition to Hope, this year’s award winners include Cadillac Family Physicians (health care workforce retention), the Cook-DeVos Health Sciences Simulation Center of Grand Valley State University (education and training strategies), Hills and Dales General Hospital (health care workforce retention), Kalkaska Memorial Hospital (health care workforce retention), Portage Health (health care workforce recruitment), Spectrum Health (community or regional collaboration) and Trinity Health-West Michigan (health care workforce recruitment).