TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College nursing students pursuing a bachelor's degree now have an easier path forward at Grand Valley State University.

NMC and GVSU officials signed a concurrent enrollment agreement on Friday to streamline the process of moving from a Registered Nurse (RN) to a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN). NMC has a similar agreement already in place with Davenport University in Grand Rapids.

The agreement will allow an NMC student with an associate's degree to earn a BSN through Grand Valley State about one year after earning the associate's degree. Stephen Siciliano, vice president for educational services at NMC, said this is one of the most exciting aspects of this new agreement, especially since more employers are requiring a bachelor's degree in nursing.

"Having our students graduate with an associate’s degree allows them to start working as a registered nurse, but more professions are pushing that concept of life-long learning, which is the mission of NMC," Siciliano said.

Laura Schmidt, the director of nursing programs at NMC until her retirement on July 18, said this agreement "benefits the students and benefits the employers."

Mary Robinson, regional nursing program coordinator for Grand Valley's Kirkhof College of Nursing, said the program is designed around those who already are using their RN degree. Robinson said GVSU's RN to BSN program combines online learning with in-seat meetings in a hybrid format.

"It's meant to be for somebody that's working and wants to finish their BSN," Robinson said. "That's the whole focus."

In addition to transferring a block of credits to Grand Valley, the agreement provides access to university advisers and financial aid.

In a Grand Valley release, Kirkhof College of Nursing Dean Cynthia McCurren said similar models are a strategy to avoid duplication and efficiently steward resources.