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Mid-Michigan medical and nursing programs see surge in applicants

Michigan State’s nursing school accepts 300 students a year. Five months into 2021, it’s already at 517 applicants.
Published: May. 5, 2021 at 6:25 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Even though they may end up treating patients with a deadly and contagious disease in the middle of a pandemic, more people are signing up to become nurses.

The pandemic’s effect on the medical field has been huge and as the importance of these jobs has become more visible, many are realizing their true passion.

“It’s always been increasing, but this bump due to the pandemic is more than we would normally expect,” Randolph Rasch said, the Dean of Michigan State University’s College of Nursing.

MSU’s nursing school accepts 300 students a year. Five months into 2021, it’s already at 517 applicants.

“The pandemic has given an exposure for the public to see what nurses are. People go, ‘oh, I have not really stopped to think what nurses do, how they have to think, to provide the care,’” Rasch said. “It’s been a great opportunity for folks to think ‘that’s something I really want to do.’”

MSU has seen a 42% increase in the traditional BSN program and a 14% increase in the accelerated BSN program.

Lansing Community College anticipates an increase once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and draws a parallel to post-9/11.

“When we went through 9/11, it was interesting to see what came out of that with regard to enrollment because there were some people who were really moved by the professionals involved that they then pursued careers in those areas,” Dr. Jan Karazim said, Dean of LCC’s Department of Health and Human Services.

Both schools originally thought there could be a decrease due to COVID-19 but it’s quite the opposite.

“I think we’re going to see the same in COVID-19,” Karazim said. “I think that there will be some who had never thought of healthcare and say you know what, I want to be part of that.”

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing saw a 6% increase in 2020 enrollment, while the Association of American Medical Colleges saw an 18% increase. It may continue to rise.

“When we’re in a situation like this, I think people begin to say to themselves, ‘Boy life is important, am I doing what I want to do?,” Rasch said. “They’ve looked at nursing as one of the possibilities for that.”

In the meantime, programs at both schools are preparing for this increase. MSU and LCC will try to increase capacity and increase accessibility for their nursing and medical programs especially if this upward trend continues.

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