GREEN BAY (WLUK) -- Nursing is the most popular degree choice for undergraduate students in Wisconsin, according to a new report from Stacker. But how much do spring graduations help health care facilities with the shortage of nurses and other medical professionals?
Each year, around 3 million undergraduate degrees are granted in the U.S. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the top three degree programs for the period from 2009 to 2020 were business, health programs and social sciences/history.
"UW-Green Bay has offered an RN to BSN, or BSN completion program since the 1980s," said Christine Vandenhouten, UW-Green Bay's director of nursing.
But here in Wisconsin, nursing was the most popular.
To view the other most common undergraduate degrees awarded in Wisconsin, click here.
"I would say that there was a definite increase in nursing programs," said Vandenhouten.
Vandenhouten says within the last year there's been a decline in the number of applicants in nursing programs.
"Not necessarily at UW-Green Bay but across the board," said Vandenhouten. "We believe some of that may be due to COVID and some of the concerns for safety."
The most common undergraduate degrees awarded in Wisconsin during the 2017 and 2018 school years were practical nursing, vocational nursing and nursing assistants with a total of 7,223 students. Also, registered nursing, nursing administration, nursing research and clinical nursing, with a total of 6,590 students.
"Most of them stay in the area and work at our local health systems," said Vandenhouten. "We have a few who came to us from out of the area and have continued to work in Wisconsin for the most part,"
Both UWGB's class of 2021 and 2020 had a total of 70 nursing majors, according to the university's First Destination Survey.
"It helps to give us some insight into where our graduates are landing after they complete their degrees," said UWGB Director of Career Services Kay Voss.
The survey is used to capture information regarding how new college graduates are managing in their careers within six months of graduation.
"So, we try to collect that information just to give us an insight on where our graduates are getting hired, how long is it taking them, industry trends, salary information as well too," said Voss.
Bellin Health hired six of the nursing majors from UWGB's class of 2020 and eight of the nursing majors from the class of 2021.
"Typically, as the colleges go through their cycle with different health care programs, we typically will secure many of those graduates here within the organization," said Laura Hieb, chief nursing officer at Bellin Health.
Hieb says the stress of the pandemic caused some of their nurses to leave.
"Many nurses took the opportunity to look at traveling jobs -- I think, altering the jobs or roles that they had," said Hieb.
But with the pandemic subsiding, both Bellin and UWGB are expecting applications to increase.
"We are seeing kind of that swing back where nurses are starting to return back to local health systems," said Hieb.