DOWAGIAC, Mich. — A community college in southwestern Michigan is expanding its nursing and health education building in an attempt to combat a growing shortage of nurses that seems particularly acute in the area.

Southwestern Michigan College has launched a $9.6 million initiative to more than double the size of the nearly 50-year-old building, the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/2tgAWul ) reported. Work is expected to begin this summer to update the building with the latest health instruction technology.

The expansion will allow the two-year college to increase its nursing and health education enrollment capacity by about 40 percent. Rebecca Jellison, the college’s dean of the School of Nursing and Health Services, said the nursing program last fall had about three dozen more applicants than it could admit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 19 percent job growth for registered nurses by 2022, resulting in over 1 million job openings. The increase is due to a variety of factors, including schools not having the capacity to accept more students and retirements of baby boomers.

Jellison points to an assessment in 2012 that predicted the nursing shortage among Midwestern states would be worst in Michigan, with a deficit of more than 25,700 nurses by 2030.

Indiana is in a similar crunch, but Ivy Tech Community College currently doesn’t have any plans to substantially increase its nursing program, said Mary Ann Horner, dean of the school of nursing at the community college in South Bend.

The Southwestern Michigan College building is expected to open for classes in the fall of 2018.


Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com