Baker College changes to a four-year nursing degree


The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that the number of nursing jobs will grow by 526,000 nationally by 2022. Courtesy Thinkstock

An area college will replace a two-year nursing degree with a four-year degree because of increasing area nursing needs.

Baker College of Muskegon announced in January it would replace its existing Associate Degree in Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, beginning this fall.

“Area health care professionals, our clinical partners and our advisory committee have confirmed that the need for nurses with BSN credentials will only increase in the future,” said Baker College of Muskegon President Lee Coggin. “This move will give our graduates the competitive advantage they need to meet their career goals.”

The new offering is a result of where the health care industry is headed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted the nursing job outlook for 2012-2022 shows 19 percent growth, or 526,000 jobs — “for a number of reasons, including an increased emphasis on preventive cares; growing rates of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity; and demand for health care services from the baby boomer population.”

The bureau estimates the average salary for registered nurses is $67,930, with the top 10 percent earning more than $94,000.

A study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute of Medicine found that by 2020, 80 percent of hospital nurses should have BSNs.

“This transition to a BSN program will benefit our students and our community,” said Baker College of Muskegon School of Nursing Director Jennifer Kaiser. “Our graduates will be equipped for any entry-level R.N. position, and the community will have health care provided by more knowledgeable professionals.”

Kaiser said some hospitals already are hiring four-year degree candidates over associate degree candidates and are asking candidates and employed nurses to obtain a four-year degree within a specific time period.

Part of the push by the hospitals is to qualify for credentialing through the Magnet Recognition Program from the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The program recognizes hospitals and other health care organizations for quality in care and in other categories, including the percentage of nurses with bachelor degrees.

The program has limited enrollment with 48 applicants accepted each year for the on-campus degree. Students who elect to pursue a BSN can begin by taking prerequisites at the three Michigan campuses of Baker College — Muskegon, Clinton Township and Cadillac.

Students already in the associate degree program can finish on campus and then choose to complete the bachelor degree through an online program by Baker College.

The degree upgrade should help Baker College maintain its high level of placement for graduates. According to the most recent numbers, Baker College sees 96 percent of its graduates pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. The college also reports 97 percent of available graduates are employed.

“This is an exciting time for the Baker College School of Nursing,” said Lesley Morgan, dean of the School of Nursing for Baker College system. “As a career-oriented college, we always want to be in line with the current trends in nursing education.”

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