GV partners with Pine Rest for scholarship opportunities


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Carlie Sherwood, Staff Writer

As tuition increases around the country institutions and students alike are seeking creative solutions to alleviate the financial burden.

Grand Valley State University and Pine Rest Mental Health Services, a West Michigan-based behavioral healthcare provider, have partnered together to support aspiring behavioral health nurses.

In an effort to replenish the diminished nursing workforce, Pine Rest Mental Health Services has partnered with GVSU and four other West Michigan institutions including Calvin University, Cornerstone University, Davenport University and Montcalm Community College to create an employment-based scholarship program, Pine Rest Academy.

The scholarship includes tuition assistance totaling up to $40,000 over four years for full-time nursing students looking to enter the behavioral health field. Along with working part-time at a Pine Rest facility while pursuing their degree, recipients of this scholarship will stay on staff as behavioral health nurses for at least two years following the completion of their program and accreditation by the State of Michigan. 

While on staff, students will work with registered nurses and nurse practitioners to help assess, address and monitor patients’ mental health and behavioral conditions in a hands-on capacity.

“We’ve always had experiential learning that is mandated for all colleges or schools of nursing by the state boards of nursing,” said Dr. Lola Coke, acting Dean of the Kirkof College of Nursing at Grand Valley. “The creative partnerships give us an opportunity to look at nursing education, look at how we teach our students in nursing, and be able to look at new ways of enhancing our curriculum as well as helping our practice partners with their nursing care delivery.”

The scholarship offers “unique educational experiences to really enhance the student’s understanding of behavioral health, which is really important because it’s a huge gap in healthcare, not only in the state of Michigan but across the nation.” 

“The Pine Rest partnership is really targeted at our accelerated second-degree students,” Coke said. “Those are students that already have an existing degree in another area who desire to become a nurse.”

The accelerated second-degree nursing program is a competitive program that was introduced at GVSU in 2016 with the goal of making the career shift into nursing quicker and more accessible. Each semester, 56 students enter the rigorous four-semester program to earn their Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Currently, the Pine Rest Academy is a three-year partnership between the facility and the partnering accredited nursing institutions. Coke hopes that the partnership will prove to be mutually beneficial to GVSU students and Pine Rest, and continue into the foreseeable future.

 “We certainly hope that at the three-year point, we have positive outcomes and that we can continue the partnership,” Coke said.

For more information about this and other scholarships visit the Grand Valley myScholarships or the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship.