Senate committee approves Nesbitt legislation allowing community colleges to offer four-year nursing degrees

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform Tuesday afternoon voted to approve legislation that would increase access and affordability in Michigan nursing education programs.

“As baby boomers continue to age, the state of Michigan is going to see an increase in the demand for nursing and other health care services,” said Sen. Aric Nesbitt, R-Lawton, the bill’s sponsor. “At the same time, it is expected that almost half of the current nursing workforce plans to retire within a decade. This is going to create a perfect storm that will put incredible stress on our health care system.”

Nesbitt introduced legislation to increase the availability of four-year nursing programs by allowing the state’s community colleges to offer nursing bachelor’s degrees.

Current law already allows exemptions for cement technology, maritime technology, energy production technology, and culinary arts — Nesbitt’s legislation would add nursing to the list of four-year programs community colleges may offer.

A community college board of trustees would be able to establish a baccalaureate nursing education program so long as it meets the requirements set in the public health code. Before offering such a program, schools must hold a national professional nursing accreditation, hold candidacy for accreditation, or have applied for that accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

“Making sure we’re able to meet these needs is especially important as we continue to battle back against the coronavirus,” Nesbitt said. “As we look to the future of Michigan health care, we need to ensure there are qualified professionals in place to handle the needs of residents. I think our state’s fantastic community colleges can help fill the gap by offering programs that will help us meet our health care needs and keep up with the increasing demand for nursing services.”