Michigan Governor takes Decisive Steps to Address the Nursing Shortage

Michigan Governor takes Decisive Steps to Address the Nursing Shortage
By Patricia Thomas, PhD, RN

In her State of the State address, Governor Jennifer Granholm took bold and proactive steps to address a sluggish economy and the health concerns that face the state of Michigan. Central to these efforts were measure to address the nursing shortage.

In an interview, Granholm said, “Training workers to fill the good-paying jobs available right now in health care facilities across the state is a key component of our plan to revitalize Michigan’s economy.”By expanding our capacity for training nurses and accelerating the training, we are not only placing workers in jobs, we are helping to ensure every Michigan citizen receives world-class health care.”

The Face of the Nursing Shortage in Michigan

It is estimated that Michigan will be short about 7000 nurses by the year 2010 with that number rising to 18,000 by 2015. In 2005, state colleges and universities turned away 2000 prospective nursing students. The reasons cited by the educational institutions were shortages of qualified faculty and limited clinical placement locations for educational experiences. The shortage of nurses in Michigan aligns with nursing shortfalls throughout the country.

One of the concerns not addressed in the Governors initiatives is the concern about faculty salaries, typically far less than what a Master’s prepared nurse could earn in clinical practice. Nurses with graduate education preparation have several choices among administrative, entrepreneurial, clinical research, and academic positions. These positions provide better financial compensation and render faculty salaries non-competitive (Hinshaw, 2001). The American Association of Colleges of Nursing identified several characteristics that contribute to shortage of nursing faculty (that parallel the shortages of nurses in general) but salary differentials were found to be a deterrent to chose a career as a faculty member as the median salary for master’s prepared Assistant Professors in a 2005 study was $69,967. Instructor faulty (or adjunct faculty) had a median salary of $58,557. When compared to colleagues in practice settings, a chief nurse executive has a median salary of $157,754; a nurse Anesthetist $121,698; a Director of Nursing104,191; a Nurse Practitioner in specialty practice $74,015; and a certified Nurse Midwife $78,565.

Several factors in Michigan have been identified as contributing factors to the nursing shortage. They included:
1. A growing and aging population

2. Fewer workers
• fewer young people entering the nursing profession;
• more options for women in choosing a career;
• and limited efforts to recruit men in the profession

3. An aging workforce
• 17% of nurses are 55 and over;
• The average age of working nurses is 46
• 50% of nursing faculty is eligible for retirement adding to the concern about qualified faculty to educate nurses.

4. Racial and ethnic diversity that does not match the states’ demographics
• 6% of RNs are African-American;
• 1% of RNs are American Indian/Alaskan Native;
• 3% of RNs are Asian or Pacific Islander
• 1% of RNs and LPNs are Hispanic

Initiatives to Address the Shortage in Michigan

In support of efforts to address the nursing shortage, Governor Granholm identified several initiatives in the 2007 State of the State address as well as the 2008 State of Michigan budget proposal. These include the Nurse Corp, the “No Worker Left Behind Plan”, and the MI Opportunity Partnership.

Granholm’s Nursing Corps initiative will address the nursing shortage by expanding the number of faculty in the state’s nursing programs, increasing clinical placement opportunities, and providing accelerated degree programs for workers choosing nursing as a second career. The Michigan Nursing Corp is a three year, $45 million plan to prepare 500 nurse educators and train 3000 new nurses. Nurses will be provided financial support for their education and, in return, they will sign contracts to teach in Michigan nursing education programs. This will support adding staff as well as replacing those nursing faculty that plan to retire.

One of the state goals addressed as a strategic initiative was the “No Worker Left Behind Plan” (NWLB). Economic incentives will help more than 100,000 displaced automotive industry workers by providing 2 years of free tuition at any state community college. The plan will also allow displaced workers to receive technical training or an associate degree while receiving unemployment benefits. To qualify for the NWLB program, a displaced worker will take a skills assessment test administered by the state. Workers with qualifying results can pursue high demand occupations that vary from region to region. The most common examples are health care, accounting, bookkeeping services, information technology and auto service technicians and mechanics.

The MI Opportunity Partnership is a third program that Governor Granholms’ administration supported by investment of $30 million. This partnership represents collaboration between the State of Michigan with employers from business and industry. Representatives from healthcare and the skilled trades, organized labor, community colleges and universities, and the Regional Skills Alliance are working toward placing workers into jobs today and coordinating new job opportunities in healthcare and skilled trades for displaced workers in the future. The Mi Opportunity Partnership will be responsible for coordinating accelerated training strategies to provide opportunity in health professions with a focus on recruitment, retention, development, and collaboration. The Working For Jobs Today! pledge drive is just one part of the MI Opportunity Partnership program, which has helped more than 100,000 workers connect with training and jobs in the past year.

“One of the exciting successes of the MI Opportunity Partnership is the unprecedented level of collaboration between all of the partners,” said Robert W. Swanson, acting director of the Department of Labor & Economic Growth. “This initiative has helped strengthen our partnership in helping employers and providing assistance, training, and job placements for workers. Today we work together as a team to better serve our customers – the workers and business owners of Michigan.”

Several partnerships have been established to recruit and educate laid off workers into nursing programs. The Henry Ford Health System, in partnership with Oakland University is recruiting displaced automotive workers for nursing programs. Beaumont Hospitals and Michigan State University have also joined forces provide accelerated nursing programs.

At a time when many citizens in Michigan are concerned about unemployment, healthcare has become the number one employer. While there are concerns for what the future holds in Michigan, Governor Granholm’s actions and decisive initiatives demonstrate a commitment to improving the health of our citizens by preparing qualified nurses and healthcare professionals to meet the states healthcare needs.










Patricia Thomas PhD, RN
Dr. Thomas has been a nurse for 25 years. She is board certified by the ANCC in Adult Health and Advanced Nursing Administration. Additionally, she is board certified by the American College of Healthcare Executives in Healthcare management. She earned her PhD at Walden University in 2006 in Applied Management and Decision Sciences with an emphasis on Leadership and Organizational Change. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing (1982) and Master of Science in Nursing (1993) from the University of Michigan. She earned an Associate Degree in Nursing from Lake Superior State College (1982).  Her interest areas include nursing leadership and development, case management, quality improvement, and health policy. Her clinical practice has included various leadership, education, and practice positions in oncology, chronic disease, case management, and nursing administration. She is an Assistant Professor at University of Detroit-Mercy in the McAuley School of Nursing.

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