MI Launches Fast-Track Nurse Apprentice Program

By John Commins

In an effort to address Michigan’s dire rural nursing shortage, the state has launched its first registered nurse apprentice program in a partnership with Corwell Health Ludington Hospital and West Shore Community College.

Stakeholders say the new program combines classroom instruction and practical experience with a nurse mentor for full-time apprentices at Corewell Health Ludington Hospital (formerly Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital) for a faster, less cumbersome path to RN licensure.

“The rural health workforce faces many challenges, including nursing shortages,” Meleah Mariani, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, CNO, at Corewell Health Ludington said at the launching ceremony this month in the city, located about 100 miles north of Grand Rapids on Lake Michigan.

Under the partnership, Corewell Health Ludington Hospital apprentices will enroll in the West Shore Community College nursing program for classroom instruction, lab, and clinical education. The apprentices also will be employed by Corewell Ludington with on-the-job training provided, which will expedite the time it takes to become practice-ready.

“The registered nurse apprenticeship can open doors for those who otherwise might not pursue a career in nursing,” Mariani says. “So many times, I have heard someone say ‘I always wanted to be a nurse,’ but the need to work full-time, the demands of childcare, and other associated expenses create roadblocks.

“It is my hope that our RN apprenticeship and partnership with West Shore Community College and Michigan Works! West Central means that Corewell Health can inspire hope for those caring individuals who envision themselves as future nurses. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity.”

The partnership is developing admissions and application criteria, with the first apprentice program to begin in 2023.

“We are thrilled with this opportunity to allow working people a chance to take their skills and education to the next level,” says Shelley Boes, MSN, RN, director of nursing and allied health at West Shore. “The nurse apprenticeship program will help nurses understand the role and job while they continue to learn and gain experience.”

Not-for-profit Corewell Health West, formerly Spectrum Health, serves 13 counties in West Michigan. Corewell Health West is a region of Corewell Health, a 22-hospital system formerly known as Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health system.

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.