Aquinas partnership with Detroit Mercy Nursing going strong

Seniors in the Nursing Program who study at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids attend the 2016 Celebrate Spirit.
Seniors in the Nursing Program who study at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids attend the 2016 Celebrate Spirit.

Each year, a group of students is admitted into the McAuley School of Nursing who will only rarely be seen on the McNichols Campus, where hundreds of other students are working on their undergraduate nursing degree.

These students—60 a year—take their classes at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, though their nursing courses are taught by a five-member faculty of Detroit Mercy professors. Core courses and prerequisites are taught by Aquinas College faculty.

The BSN degree is from Detroit Mercy, and most of these students travel to the McNichols Campus only for Celebrate Spirit, the Mass that officially begins each school year, and then graduation.

What makes the 16-year-old partnership with Aquinas unique is the commitment the two schools have to making it work, said Jaime Sinutko, Ph.D., MSN, RN, associate dean for undergraduate nursing degrees at Detroit Mercy.

“The working relationship is so strong,” she said. “It’s seamless for the students and they get a great experience, too.”

Suzanne Keep, Ph.D., RN, is chair for the undergraduate program at Aquinas and an assistant professor with the program on the west side of the state. She says the size of the program allows the students and faculty to really get to know each other, making for a special bond.

A program where junior nursing students mentor freshmen and seniors mentor sophomores also helps bring students together and encourages them during the challenging times.

The Aquinas program has a partnership with Mercy Health St. Mary’s healthcare system, where students do most of their clinical placements and lab work for class.

“The relationship with St. Mary’s has been great for the students and for St. Mary’s because they get strong graduates,” Sinutko said.

Keep seconds that: The percentage of graduates passing the licensure test are regularly above the national average for these students.

In addition, “We’ve had wonderful success with our students getting accepted into excellent, well-known graduate nursing programs across the country,” Keep said.

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