WSCC, Michigan Works partner with Ludington hospital for RN apprentice program

November 7, 2022

Present at the announcement of the first-ever RN apprentice program in Michigan were l to r: Julie Sanders, business services specialist, Michigan Works! West Central; Scott Ward, president, West Shore Community College; Russell Davis, US Department of Labor, and Steve Long, US Department of Labor.

WSCC, Michigan Works partner with Ludington hospital for RN apprentice program

The first-ever registered nurse (RN) apprentice program in the state of Michigan was signed into effect Thursday at a ceremony held at Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant. Billed by Russell Davis, director of the Michigan Department of Apprenticeship, US Department of Labor as “a home run that can serve as a template for the state,” the new program will pave the way for those interested in a nursing career to receive a combination of classroom instruction and practical experience with a nurse mentor as a paid full-time apprentice at Corewell Health Ludington Hospital (formerly Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital) for a less cumbersome pathway to registered nurse licensure.

The entities involved in the RN apprenticeship include West Shore Community College, Corewell Health Ludington Hospital, Michigan Works! West Central and the Michigan Department of Labor.

Corewell Health Ludington Hospital apprentices will be enrolled in the West Shore Community College nursing program participating in classroom instruction as well as laboratory activities and clinical education. In addition, the apprentices will be employed by Corewell Health Ludington Hospital with on-the-job training aligned with the preparation necessary for their future career as a Corewell Health Ludington Hospital registered nurse. The on-the-job training, in addition to the college’s full nursing program will expedite the time it takes to become practice-ready to provide patient care.

“It is a testament to the collaborative nature of our community that we are the first to have a registered nurse apprenticeship program,” said West Shore Community College President Scott Ward. “The hard work and dedication of Shelley Boes, our director of nursing and allied health, and her staff to foster and maintain relationships with healthcare facilities and hospitals in our region, is paying off with this history-making partnership at a time when the health care industry needs it.”

The program was brought to fruition by Rochelle (Shelley) Boes, director of nursing and allied health at West Shore Community College, Meleah Mariani, chief nursing officer at Corewell Health Ludington Hospital and Janis Kerazim, workforce program manager with the Workforce Intelligence Network. All were looking for an innovative strategy to expand accessibility to a nursing career for those who cannot forgo full-time wages and benefits to pursue nursing education.

“The rural health workforce faces many challenges, including nursing shortages,” said Mariani. “The registered nurse apprenticeship can open doors for those who otherwise might not pursue a career in nursing. 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 hospital and college partnership also includes Michigan Works! West Central, which serves as the intermediary between the hospital, college and Department of Labor. Michigan Works! will help apprentices with the roadblocks that traditionally get in the way of higher education. They can help facilitate childcare resources, provide gas cards and transportation vouchers that are often areas of need for those in northwest Michigan rural communities.

“We are proud to partner with West Shore Community College and Corewell Health Ludington Hospital to provide this first-of-its-kind apprenticeship in Michigan to help meet the state’s growing demand for nurses,” said Shelly Keene, executive director of Michigan Works! West Central. “This is a one-year, competency-based apprenticeship program that will allow nursing students to go above and beyond the scope of traditional classroom training. Those enrolled in the program will not only gain knowledge in the classroom, but also from a mentor in a real hospital setting.”

The next step is for the partnering organizations to develop admission and application criteria. The expectation is for the first apprentice to begin sometime in 2023.

“We are thrilled with this opportunity to allow working people a chance to take their skills and education to the next level,” stated Boes. “Working with Corewell Health Ludington Hospital to make sure West Shore Community College’s outcomes and objectives align with the direct care of patients has been a wonderful partnership. The nurse apprenticeship program will help nurses understand the role and job while they continue to learn and gain experience.”

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