CALEDONIA TOWNSHIP — Davenport University plans to expand a bachelor’s program for nursing in the Grand Rapids area to meet a talent shortage.
The university will add a second cohort of 64 nursing students at the Lettinga campus beginning with the winter 2020 semester. The Lettinga campus presently admits 64 nursing students each fall and has 256 students across all four years.
“We are faced with a national nursing shortage,” said Kelli Leask, chair of the nursing department at Davenport University. “We feel that this opportunity allows us to impact both our nationwide nursing shortage as well as the needs of our community.”
The market demand for nurses has been growing rapidly for years.
Employment for registered nurses alone in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon and Allegan counties grew 67.4 percent from 2007 to 2017, according to Grand Valley State University’s annual HealthCheck report. Employment for the profession across Michigan grew 11.4 percent during the same period.
GVSU’s 2019 HealthCheck report projects employment for RNs in the Grand Rapids area to grow another 16.4 percent from 2017 to 2024 to more than 13,300 positions, and by nearly 9 percent statewide to about 102,300 jobs.
On top of the increased demand as the population ages, the industry also needs to replace retiring nurses.
Davenport University cites a 2017 survey by the National Council for State Boards of Nursing that showed more than half of RNs were age 50 or older. Nationally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a need for more than 200,000 new RNs annually through 2026.
Davenport University offers a bachelor of science in nursing at four campuses: Grand Rapids, Lansing, Midland and Warren. For now, the university plans to add a winter nursing cohort only at the Lettinga campus but may expand capacity in Lansing in the future.
“It’s something that has been talked about,” Leask said. “It’s not in a proposed plan yet, but as we see the need of increased student requests for particular campuses — and the Grand Rapids Lettinga campus is one of those that is highly sought out — Lansing would be our other campus where we have a lot of students requesting admittance to.”
The university will review applications for the winter 2020 cohort at the Lettinga campus on June 3, Aug. 5 and Sept. 1.