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October 4, 2022

SVSU and Kirtland Community College partner to improve pathways to nursing degrees

Female student facing camera

Saginaw Valley State University is partnering with Kirtland Community College in Grayling to make it easier for nursing students and nursing instructors at the northern Michigan college to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. 

Through the partnership, SVSU and Kirtland offer two pathways to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In addition, SVSU is working with Kirtland professors to provide a pathway to a master’s degree.  

“Kirtland is in a rural community where access to higher education is limited and at times people can find it difficult to attend classes in person,” said Marcia Ditmyer, dean of SVSU’s Crystal M. Lange College of Health and Human Services. “By establishing a great relationship with Kirtland, SVSU can help fill the talent pipeline for educated nurses and support Kirtland’s needs for qualified faculty.”

The ADN to BSN program allows students in Kirtland’s associate degree program in nursing to work concurrently toward a bachelor’s degree from SVSU. In addition, SVSU offers an RN to BSN program that registered nurses can complete on a part-time basis. Both programs offer online and in-person classes. 

“The community college approach helped teach me how to go to college and how to be successful in a university setting, and then the university gave me the backbone to my education to strive for success,” said Charley Wood of Prescott, an emergency room nurse and who enrolled in SVSU’s ADN to BSN program at Kirtland.  

Stacey Klump, SVSU’s RN to BSN coordinator, said that nurses with baccalaureate-level education will be better prepared to serve their patients in rural areas of Michigan. 

“I believe our community colleges and their nursing programs in Michigan are excellent,” Klump said. However, many of these nursing students want to obtain their bachelor’s degree. Students can complete SVSU’s BSN program hand-in hand with their community college; when they graduate, they perform very well in the health care system, promoting quality patient outcomes.”

Klump explained that a BSN program builds on the nursing practice preparation to provide a more holistic education, providing nursing students with a deeper understanding of community health, outcomes and financial concerns of a health care system. Several studies have shown that nurses with baccalaureate degrees have demonstrated better outcomes with patients and lower incidences of mortality. 

For students, Klump said the investment in a bachelor’s degree pays off in career stability. 

“We have found over the years that nurses who are educated at the baccalaureate level are highly sought after by acute care organizations, rehab facilities and long-term care facilities, and the list goes on,” she said. “Our baccalaureate preparation allows our nurses more variety in choosing a career path.”

For many who complete SVSU’s program, that means remaining in or returning to their home communities.   

“These students are very successful in our program,” Klump said, “and then, once completed, they feel like they have the tools in their toolbox to be able to return to their rural communities to serve their patients.”

For nurses like Wood, that means a lot. 

“It is a privilege to be able to have a small part in such a big role,” Wood said about her work. “That is what I pride myself on most about – being part of a small community.” 

Hear from some of the people involved in the SVSU-Kirtland partnership: VIDEO.