Eastern Michigan University

Forward Thinking

EMU Nursing program prepares graduates for careers in many specializations

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As a nurse devoted to preventing the spread of multi-drug resistant organisms, Jacob John, 42, has made some difficult decisions in his days. But choosing Eastern Michigan University's School of Nursing was not among them.

"I looked into various programs, but Eastern's School of Nursing stood out because of its affordability, its faculty who go out of their way to help students, and its reputation among employers," says John, who received a master of science in nursing degree December 2012. "Choosing EMU was an easy decision."

John currently works as a multi-drug resistant organism prevention coordinator at the VA Ann Arbor Health Care System, where he reviews hospital procedures, educates the staff about isolation precautions, and adjusts central line intravenous catheters (IVs) for patients, among nursing duties.

"It's emotionally rewarding to be a part of a process that helps patients recover, says John.

Adding to the School of Nursing's reputation, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) renewed EMU's baccalaureate and master's degree nursing programs for another 10 years last fall, says Michael Williams, director of Eastern's School of Nursing. The reaccreditation followed a rigorous evaluation process and is a testimony to the high quality education students receive, says Williams, adding that the School of Nursing will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2013.

This long-standing track record for excellence is among reasons the program's enrollment continues to climb. The College of Health & Human Services, where the School of Nursing sits, has seen a 22 percent increase in student credit hour production in the past five years, says Williams. Currently, the school has 313 BSN students, 303 RN-BSN completion students at six sites and online; 48 MSN students; and 12 Ph.D. students. With plans to add a Nurse Practitioner track and a DNP program, Williams expects even more nurses coming to EMU, he adds.

Fueling the career's popularity are its wide range of specialties and a desirable salary range. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for a registered nurse was $65,950 in 2011, with the best-paid 10 percent earning more than $96,630. Between 2010 and 2020, the Bureau projects employment for registered nurses will increase by 26 percent. This is faster than the average for all occupations, propelled, in part, by a large, aging baby-boomer population that is living longer and with more chronic health conditions, Williams says.

While nurses are most visible at the hospital bedside or in a doctor's office, this workforce of more than 2.7 million encompasses over 100 specialties, including public health, home care, rehabilitation centers, and schools. John's employment is an interesting case in point. He specializes in coordinating policies and procedures that prevent the spread of multi-drug resistant organisms. He also earned a teaching in health care systems certification from EMU that will add to his skill offerings, he says, adding that graduate nursing degrees and additional certifications often bring career advancement opportunities.

These career pluses are among tangible reasons US News, an American news magazine, ranks registered nursing as the second best career choice in its "The Best Jobs of 2013" edition. But the career also offers intangible benefits, including the empathetic nature of the job, says John.

"Whether you are male or female, caring is the essence of nursing," John says. "I'm highly motivated to help patients recover, and I'm grateful that Eastern has given me the skills to do that." – Linda Hass

Additional Information

In addition to the master of science in nursing, which includes three tracks and four concentration options, Eastern's School of Nursing also offers the following graduate opportunities:

  • Post-bachelor certificates designed for nursing students interested in earning extra credentials to broaden their career options.
  • Ph.D. in Educational Studies (EDST) designed to prepare educators, scholars, community advocates and activists in their respective disciplines of higher education.