Imagine graduating from college with the guarantee of a job at a prestigious organization—and getting a $10,000 signing bonus.
For Union College nursing graduates, that scenario is now a reality, thanks to a new partnership between Union College and the Kettering Health Network. Starting with the class of 2018, nursing graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam, have strong references and agree to work within the Kettering system for at least two years are guaranteed a job at a Kettering Health Network hospital. In addition, they will receive a signing bonus of $2,500 for each year they attended Union as a pre-nursing or nursing major, up to $10,000.
Kettering Health Network is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church and operates eight hospitals and more than 120 outpatient health care facilities in southern Ohio. The network is ranked as a Top 15 Best Health System in the Country by Truven Health Analytics.
Aaron Snelgrove ’18 is one of the first graduates to benefit from this partnership. His initial experience at Kettering was a three-month paid internship in the summer of 2017. His Union professors encouraged him to apply, and he found the experience even better than he’d expected.
“I met godly people there who value me as an individual,” he said. “For me, the best thing is how they view Union nursing students. They hold us in such high regard that they go out of their way to work with us, make us happy, and help us get the careers we want.”
After returning to Union for his final two semesters in the nursing program, Snelgrove began to plan for his final preceptorship. He wanted to work in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), but he found that placement difficult to secure. However, Dr. Nicole Orian ’04, chair of the Division of Nursing, had a plan.
“She talked to Kettering and told them I’d be a fantastic addition,” he said. “They offered me a preceptorship in the NICU as a trial run to see how I’d do as an employee.” Not only did this solve his preceptorship challenge, it also put him on a career track.
“The NICU can be a hard place to be, since we’re dealing with sick children. But the unit manager told me to give it a try. If it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, they offered to find me a job in another area,” he said.
In addition, they extended a job offer to his fiancée, Rachel Jorgensen, also a Union nursing graduate. Snelgrove was blown away by the twin offers. “For them to do that speaks volumes,” he said.
A Beneficial Partnership
In an era of career instability, the promise of a job and signing bonus are huge assets for students preparing to enter the workforce.
“It’s not uncommon for hospitals to offer signing bonuses, but they’re not this generous, at least not for new graduates,” Orian said. “This is significant. Kettering has chosen Union as a preferred nursing school, and that’s good for our graduates, good for Union, and good for Kettering.”
Orian explains that the partnership comes with added assurance for students. “Along with our small class sizes, spiritual approach, and top quality program, this shows incoming students and their parents a way to a guaranteed career in four years,” she said. “It’s the beginning of a wonderful career with the guarantee of a job at a well-known hospital network with a high retention rate for new graduates, a supportive new graduate nurse residency program and excellent patient outcomes.”
The partnership between Union and Kettering was carefully crafted over time, according to both Orian and Tim Dutton, Vice President of Human Resources at Kettering Health Network. “Union’s graduates are very prepared for the nursing profession,” Dutton said. “The faith-based connection and students’ pass rates, clinical skills, and level of preparation when they come to us were even more reason for us to explore this partnership. It wasn’t born out of hope; it was born out of the consistent track record we’ve had with Union College and the experience we’ve had with their graduates.”
Orian feels good about sending graduates to Kettering. “They have the same beliefs and culture that Union does, and they are incredibly intentional about nurturing new nurses and helping them develop,” she said. “Kettering has figured out how to take care of new graduates, and I love the idea of our nurses going somewhere that’s going to support them and love them as much as we do.”
As for Aaron Snelgrove, he’s preparing for a life-changing summer. “I’ll graduate, take my boards, get married and go on our honeymoon, pack, and take a road trip to Dayton,” he said “I’m excited to be going to a place that puts an immense value on who I am and how I’ve been trained. At Union, we’re educated in nursing, but we’re taught to treat the whole person and work as servants of Christ. Out of everything else, that makes Union College nursing students stand out. We’re really good nurses, but we’re also taught to be good people.”
By Lauren Bongard Schwarz, freelance writer and Union graduate