10:38pm Wednesday 22 January 2020

MSU helping nurses transition into new practices, alleviating shortage

The program, “Nursing for Life: The RN Career Transition Program,” has been honored with the 2009 Building Michigan’s Health Care Work Force Award for Retention. The award was established by the Michigan Health Council to recognize organizations and educators working on creative approaches to recruit and retain a skilled and diverse health care work force.

The goal of the Nursing for Life program is to expand career options by providing experienced professionals contemplating retirement with an educational program to prepare them for nursing roles in community settings, said Teresa Wehrwein, associate dean for academic and clinical affairs at MSU’s College of Nursing.

The Web-based educational program is combined with an on-site clinical practicum. Modules include a focus on nursing roles, cultural diversity, communication and treatment, with emphases on new technologies and care techniques. Additionally, an educational course has been developed for the nurses who will coach and mentor nurses wishing to change career directions.

“Our work force initiatives that support experienced nurses are an important strategy in addressing the nursing shortage,” Wehrwein said. “The health care demands of the 79 million baby boomers moving into their 60s – and the general population growth of people older than age 80 – require innovative solutions to meet an anticipated unprecedented demand for health care services expected to last for the next 30 years.”

Michigan’s nursing work force also is aging; 22 percent of Michigan registered nurses are 55 or older, and 59 percent are 45 or older, Wehrwein said. Nursing in hospitals is physically demanding, requiring long hours, prolonged standing and heavy lifting, all of which becomes increasingly challenging for older nurses; many end up leaving the profession.

The program, in conjunction with the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, kicked off in 2007 with more than $350,000 in funding. It was developed as part of the Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future initiative led by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Northwest Health Foundation. The project encourages local foundations to act as catalysts in developing grassroots strategies to establish a stable, adequate nursing work force.


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.

Contact: Jill Vondrasek, College of Nursing, Office: (517) 353-8742, jill.vondrasek@hc.msu.edu; Jason Cody, University Relations, Office: (517) 432-0924, Cell: (734) 755-0210, Jason.Cody@ur.msu.edu

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