Colleges respond to demand for more nurses through partnership for four-year degree

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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MARINETTE, Wis. (WBAY) - The coronavirus has put increasing demands on the health care industry in the past several months. This comes as the Administrators of Nursing Education of Wisconsin predicts a shortage of 27,000 nurses in the state in the next 20 years.

Two colleges are trying to address those concerns with new options for nursing education.

Theresa Mabry will finish her nursing degree from NWTC Marinette in May, eager to begin her second career.

“I actually was in the banking industry for 19 years and started this program last January,” says Mabry. “The kids are grown and I’ve always had an interest in health care, and the opportunity at NWTC presented itself, so I jumped in.”

She’s not alone.

“We have a great demand for nurses up in our area,” says Jennifer Flatt, NWTC Marinette Campus dean. “I’ve never heard of one of our graduates struggling to find a job, let’s put it that way.”

Beginning in September, for the first time in the Marinette area, nursing students will be able to work toward a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

It’s a more intensive, longer education that more employers are beginning to demand of their new hires.

“I think folks that live here want and need quality health care, and this will just give us a broader base of qualified workers to provide that quality health care,” says Flatt.

It’s called the Marinette Nursing Track.

NWTC Marinette and UW-Green Bay Marinette Campus are partnering to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

Students start basic studies and core classes at University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Marinette campus for year one.

Years two and three are at the NWTC campus in Marinette, where they’ll also earn an associates degree.

Their final year is back with UW.

The schools say this collaboration saves students money and hassle but benefits the entire area.

“A lot of the students who graduate do end up staying here and are hired into health care professions right here in the Marinette area, and, of course, as a community member, that’s what we want,” says Cindy Bailey, Campus Executive Officer at UW-Green Bay, Marinette Campus.

It’s happening not only as Wisconsin faces a projected shortage of thousands of nurses in the next two decades, but it’s in the middle of a global health care crisis.

“I think, too, the pandemic has prompted students to study and to look at, how can I be part of that? How can I make a difference?” says Bailey. “They see nursing as a pathway to do that.”

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