Michigan Senate to Vote on Bill to Allow Nursing Programs at Community Colleges

Reviewed by Abbie Jacobs, RN, BSN

A bill passed in Michigan in 2012 allowed for community colleges to offer a number of four-year programs such as culinary arts and maritime technology. That bill initially included allocation for BSN programs, but it was cut before approval. Now, Senator Mike Shirkey is pushing for BSN programs to be taught in community colleges again.

The bill being sponsored by Shirkey includes a number of other technology related programs and an allied health program. The bill is being met with some resistance as other senators suggest there are enough BSN programs in Michigan. In response, Shirkey is modifying the bill so that local districts will need to vote on allowing the specific programs, including nursing programs. This puts the power in the hands of local citizens to approve funding for their local community colleges.

If this bill were to be approved, it would introduce competition to universities that already offer nursing programs. Students may not be able to afford a four-year university, making community colleges an attractive option. If it’s passed, it creates cheaper opportunities for students as well as for currently employed nurses that only have a two-year associates degree but are being pushed to go back to school for a full bachelor’s degree.

Supporters of the bill cite current shortages and bubbles of nursing in Michigan, while opposition members say that those shortages will be filled in 10 years, and that diverting resources to community colleges now is unwise. On the other hand, if the bill were to pass, the nursing gaps could be filled in on a local level. Students would graduating from their local community colleges and be able to enter into the medical industry not far from their homes.

At the end of the day, if the bill passes, it would still be up to each community college to open such a program, depending on their resources and local community support.