|Rebuttal: Stop College Nursing Mission Creep|
December 3, 2009/The Detroit News
The Detroit News editorial board is well known as a voice for fiscal common sense. That's why the board's support for allowing two-year community colleges to expand into four-year nursing programs -- and other degrees -- is quite perplexing ("Expand nursing schools," Nov. 20).
Two-year colleges have an important role, as do four-year universities. Turning one into the other doesn't make sense when the state is trying to maximize efficiencies. Focus is important -- and mission creep is expensive. Community colleges wanting to become four-year institutions must take on the expenses of added staff, administrators and facilities at a time when Michigan is cutting per-student contributions to higher education.
Creating new nursing programs, in particular, makes little fiscal sense. Universities are moving students into programs as quickly as possible, but there are waiting lists. Why? Because there is not enough faculty to teach the classes required to obtain the accreditation necessary to provide a bachelor's degree in nursing. We need more nurses willing to get doctorates to become professors. But well-paid nurses aren't interested in taking a pay cut while they get the education needed.
A state program that helped cover some of those costs was recently axed by the Legislature. Increasing the number of institutions teaching nurses will only dilute the pool of qualified faculty, driving up costs for all institutions.
Gaining national accreditation for nursing programs is also is expensive; keeping it is critical. Ask the nursing students at Owens Community College in Ohio. It recently lost its accreditation. Four students are suing the school, their futures in doubt.
Let's not let that happen here in Michigan. The focus should be on increased collaboration among the two- and four-year institutions -- not more nursing programs.
Michael A. Boulus
Executive Director, Presidents Council,
State Universities of Michigan, Lansing