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How Northeast Michigan is Handling the Nursing Shortage

In the past couple years, the medical field has experience a large number of workers leave the profession, a global issue across nearly every medical discipline.

With nursing, 800,000 nurses are expected to leave the profession in the next five years nationwide, about 20% of the nursing workforce.

“We saw about ten percent leave during the pandemic and it turned into an emergency, so we’re not out of the scramble yet,” said Vice President of Nursing at MyMichigan Medical Center, Tom Kane.

MyMichigan and Alpena Community College started an innovative program where nursing students at the college can have their tuition paid by the hospital once they’ve finished their prerequisites.

“That has helped us significantly;” said Kane. “While those people are in the program and they’re in the program for us in our incentive tuition program, they also work an average of eight hours a week. Sometimes it’s less, during breaks it might be more, they also help where we have a shortage area of patient care technicians.

This tuition program is the biggest adjustment they’ve made in their recruiting efforts to add nurses to their building, and they’ve seen significant progress.

“We want people that are from here and want to be here, and the continuity of care is just better when you have the same nurses year after year after year,” said Kane.

Kane wants prospective nursing students to know that it is still an excellent field to go into.

“The people that go into this and stay, it’s just incredibly fulfilling to be a nurse or other healthcare provider, whether you’re a physician or respiratory therapist, lab personnel, rehab, everybody has their niche, and we need everybody across,” he said.

Since starting the program, MyMichigan has filled their nursing openings substantially.