GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — In an effort to help address the nurse shortage, Pine Rest is offering scholarships for local nursing students in exchange for a commitment to work there after graduation.

Students who qualify will receive up to $40,000 in tuition assistance, Pine Rest and Grand Valley State University said in a Tuesday release. After graduation, the student will work at Pine Rest for at least two years.

GVSU is the first school in West Michigan that Pine Rest has partnered with for the program. It said it is expecting several other schools to enter into similar agreements.

“At Pine Rest, we believe that the best way to develop a knowledgeable and compassionate staff is to offer support and mentorship,” Gretchen Johnson, the chief nurse executive at Pine Rest, said in the release. “The Pine Rest Academy will not only remove financial barriers for college students seeking a nursing degree, it will also provide hands-on behavioral health training and create a smoother path to employment. This model will ultimately make a big impact on patient care.”

Calvin University is another West Michigan institution taking part in the program to address the shortage. At least six undergraduate students enrolled at Calvin are expected to participate and that number is expected to increase.

Adejoke Ayoola, PhD, the dean of Calvin University’s School of Health, said having a partnership like this is a win-win for both Pine Rest and students looking to launch their careers.

“I see this partnership as forward-looking,” Ayoola said.

Many industries have seen shortages of workers. However, the pandemic has caused burnout, especially among nurses. On top of that, many experienced nurses are simply calling it a career.

“A lot of nurses, they are retiring right now. So it’s been predicted that for the next 10 years we’ll still have that shortage because of a lot of retirements,” Ayoola said.

Ayoola added that, like the selection of multiple schools, other medical facilities are expected to follow.

“I’m looking forward to working with all of our hospitals to form the preparation of our future health professionals,” Ayoola said.

According to Pine Rest’s website, students must be accepted into a nursing program at Calvin University, Cornerstone University, Montcalm Community College or GVSU before applying to the Pine Rest Academy. For more information, go to pinerest.org.