Three-semester, cohort-style program launches in January 2024

North Central Michigan College is expanding health care education in Michigan with the addition of a Practical Nurse certificate program set to launch in January 2024. Graduates will gain the knowledge and experience to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-PN) to become licensed practical nurses, or LPNs, who implement patient care plans in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities.

LPNs can earn $25 per hour locally, with wages set to increase to $30 per hour within five years, said Brent LaFaive, dean of nursing and health sciences.

Brent LaFaive“Anyone who wants to become a nurse in Michigan now has another path to reach that goal,” LaFaive said. “North Central is providing students with multiple on-ramps to a nursing career, and our graduates are filling a critical need for nurses regionally and statewide.”

The three-semester, cohort-style program was developed in collaboration with regional hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, both of which face historic nursing shortages exacerbated by COVID-19. A recent survey of 9,150 state-licensed nurses in Michigan revealed that 59% of newly trained nurses under age 25 plan to leave the profession in the coming year, many citing staffing shortages and burnout.

“Before COVID-19, demand for practical nurses was reduced because the trend was toward RN and Bachelor of Science in Nursing education,” LaFaive said. “During and after the pandemic, demand for nurses has increased across the board, and practical nurses have an opportunity to help offset those shortages.”

In addition to its practical and registered nurse programs, the college offers Fast Track career programs leading to industry-specific certifications in a variety of health care concentrations, including medical assistant, phlebotomist, patient care technician, and a Certified Nurses Aide program scheduled to launch this summer. Programs range in duration from four to 24 weeks and include externship placement.

“A holistic approach to nursing education involves providing students with multiple entry points into their career,” said Stephen Strom, vice president of academic affairs. “Students who complete a Fast Track program can return to complete a PN degree when it makes sense for them personally and professionally. With clinical work experience, they can advance to our RN program and continue their educational path as they desire.”

Students pursuing PN certification will complete traditional lecture and lab work in North Central’s state-of-the-art simulation lab as well as extensive on-site training at the college’s 10 clinical locations. The program is limited to 40 students per cohort. Although classes begin January 8, 2024, LaFaive said prospective students should apply to the program soon, as there is no waitlist. Additional details and the program application are available at