ADRIAN DAILY TELEGRAM: Nursing is a growing need that will benefit the community, and the community should help SHU make the program succeed.
Note: The following editorial appeared in the Wednesday, January 31, 2007, edition of the Adrian Daily Telegram newspaper. Reprinted with permission.
SHU nursing plan a healthy area goal
At issue: A decision to add a nursing program at Adrian’s Siena Heights University.
Our view: Nursing is a growing need that will benefit the community, and the community should help SHU make the program succeed.
Siena Heights University took an important step this week toward filling Lenawee County’s need for student nursing programs, and we hope other organizations will partner with the school to ensure the venture’s economic and educational success.
It’s no secret that the baby boom generation is aging. Eventually it will require a similar boom in the number of medical care staffers. In fact, that need already exceeds the capacity of America’s strained health care system. According to SHU, Michigan is one of 30 states with fewer nurses than needed. State economic officials project the shortage will reach 7,000 nurses by 2010. The shortage will grow to 18,000 nurses five years later.
That challenge, however, also presents opportunities.For local educational facilities, the nursing shortage provides a useful way to boost enrollment while meeting a growing social need. The Adrian Dominican Sisters’ background in caring for their own should help their school to react quickly and develop a truly vital curriculum.
For the two dozen medical care facilities in Lenawee County alone — including two hospitals — it offers the prospect of helping train tomorrow’s work force. Technology has expanded what local health care now offers patients, but it also requires computer experience and other training that was only dreamed of when most nurses received their degrees.
For students, SHU officials say the announced program would be the first four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in Lenawee, Hillsdale or Jackson counties. The three counties alone have more than 313,000 residents, all three have more senior citizens than the national average of 12.4 percent, and available two-year programs are near capacity. The SHU program will give more local students the option of studying close to home.
Finally, for communities battered by layoffs, Siena Heights’ program offers the promise of training or retraining for good-paying careers. Nursing is an occupation unlikely to be “outsourced” because local patients are unlikely to move. Facilities have recruited nurses from other nations for decades, yet the demand for trained nurses continues to exceed the worldwide supply.
Siena Heights deserves credit for embarking on a difficult but potentially rewarding course to meet society’s future needs. As school officials have pointed out, medical care represents a page from the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ past. Their ministry in Adrian grew out of starting a hospital for the poor and for injured railroad workers. This week’s announcement is a similarly inspired vision.