Drone photo of health campus buildings, Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences and the DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health

Grant allows KCON to partner with hospital systems to help working nurses overcome barriers to degrees

The Kirkhof College of Nursing received a $2.2 million federal grant to partner with two health care organizations to support working nurses from underrepresented backgrounds who wish to obtain bachelor's or advanced nursing degrees.

KCON will partner with Spectrum Health and McLaren Health Care on the four-year project, which is supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Together, Spectrum and McLaren reach 14 counties in the lower peninsula.

Janet Winter, associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs, said this unique academic/practice partnership will provide access to degree programs to nurses from underrepresented backgrounds, while offering wraparound support services to ensure academic and professional success. 

Leaders at the two organizations would recruit nurses to enroll in the RN-BSN, master's of nursing, or doctor of nursing practice programs. Winter said a total of 60 students will earn degrees throughout the four years of the program, with the majority (38) in the RN-BSN program.

headshots of Katherine Moran, left, and Janet Winter
From left are Katherine Moran, associate dean for graduate nursing programs, and Janet Winter, associate dean for undergraduate nursing programs.
Image credit - University Communications

Lisa Zajac, director of clinical informatics at McLaren Health Care, said the program provides opportunities for nurses from underrepresented backgrounds to overcome barriers that may have prevented them from earning degrees.

"We actually have the opportunity to increase education and enhance practice at McLaren for three degrees with this grant," Zajac said. "Research has shown that increasing the number of BSN-prepared nurses at the bedside increases the quality of care, and it's similar with master's or DNP degrees."

Nurses from Spectrum/McLaren who want to enroll in this program will have to meet GVSU admission requirements. Winter added that the RN-BSN program is a post-licensure program that is offered online and, thus, does not take away seats or resources from traditional or accelerated second degree KCON students.

The grant supports adding a part-time student services advisor to KCON's Office of Student Services and a project manager.

Katherine Moran, associate dean for graduate nursing programs, said people interested in this program will become nurse leaders in their communities.

"This grant program will help to increase diversity in the workforce by helping these individuals overcome barriers to their education," Moran said. "They will have lots of support services available on their path to becoming successful nurse leaders."


This program is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $2,219,681 with 0% financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.


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