July 27, 2022 | Matt Kucinski

Gretchen Johnson, chief nurse executive at Pine Rest, and Adejoke Ayoola, dean of Calvin University's School of Health, helped lead the formation of Pine Rest Academy.

Calvin University and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the Calvin-Pine Rest BSN Partnership.

The partnership supports a workforce-development strategy for both current Pine Rest employees who wish to pursue a BSN and existing undergraduates at Calvin University who are considering a career in psychiatric nursing.

“Calvin University and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services are leaders in their respective fields and, together, will offer Michigan’s future nurses a world-class education and invaluable patient care experience in behavioral health,” said Gretchen Johnson, chief nurse executive for Pine Rest.

Creating opportunities, meeting market needs

The partnership comes in response to the demand for more mental health professionals, the need for current nurses to receive continued education, and the reality that there’s a nursing shortage expected over the next several years due to burnout and baby boomers retiring.

Through this partnership, Pine Rest will provide up to $10,000 in tuition assistance per semester (up to $40,000 total) for at least six undergraduate students enrolled at Calvin University (with that number expected to increase). In return, students will agree to work at Pine Rest during nursing school and for two years after being licensed by the State of Michigan.

Dr. Adejoke Ayoola, dean for Calvin University’s School of Health, says this partnership will help meet the real needs of the market while providing aspiring nurses with a great pathway to their future career.

“The pandemic has caused increased emotional vulnerability and a lot of people are struggling with mental health, so we need more mental health nurses,” said Ayoola. “This collaboration creates a pathway to help meet this need, while also providing an opportunity for our nursing students to gain invaluable experience and receive the financial resources that will help them pay for their education. I believe in collaboration. When we walk together, that’s when we are strong.”

Setting a new standard

As part of the partnership, Calvin University will admit up to six students in its BSN program every year into the Pine-Rest Academy. The Pine Rest Academy students could be Calvin nursing students or Pine Rest employees who qualify for admission to Calvin and are interested in pursuing a BSN program.

“We are extremely excited by this partnership with Calvin University and the launch of our Pine Rest Academy for nursing students,” said Johnson. “I truly believe the Pine Rest Academy and our partnership with Calvin University will set a new standard for nurse education and training; one that will greatly benefit current and future patients, our local communities, and the state as a whole.”

The discussions Calvin University leaders initiated with Pine Rest have led to other colleges and universities signing on as partners as well. Cornerstone, GVSU, and Montcalm Community College have since joined the Pine Rest Academy.

Learn more about Pine Rest Academy.

About Calvin University

Founded in 1876, Calvin University is a top-ranked, liberal arts institution that equips its nearly 3,300 students from 47 U.S. states, 49 countries, and four Canadian provinces to think deeply, to act justly, and to live wholeheartedly as Christ’s agents of renewal in the world. Calvin offers 100+ majors and programs, including a growing portfolio of graduate-level offerings. Calvin students engage in intensive internships, community-based service learning, and significant research that results in publishing and presenting alongside world-class faculty. The university’s 400-acre campus is located in the vibrant city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Discover more at www.calvin.edu.

About Pine Rest

Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services is a nonprofit organization founded in 1910 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pine Rest is the fourth largest behavioral health provider in the U.S., offering a full continuum of services including psychiatric urgent care, inpatient and partial hospitalization, residential, outpatient and teletherapy services, addiction treatment and recovery, extensive child and adolescent programs, senior care services, as well as specialized assessment and treatment clinics. Learn more at www.pinerest.org.

Recent stories