College of Health and Behavior

Rural Nurse
Residency Certificate Program

For Graduates from a U.S.-Accredited BSN Program
in Their First Year of Practice


Nurses are in high demand in the U.S.—especially in rural settings—for numerous reasons. The American Nurses Association indicates a need nationwide to prepare more than 1.1 million new RNs to replace upwards of 500,000 retirees and to meet other ever-growing shortages. Six hundred, or 30%, of all rural hospitals across the U.S. are at risk of closing. For 200 of them, or 10%, the threat is imminent.

Lake Superior State University contends with this urgency through its new Post-Baccalaureate Rural Nurse Residence Certificate Program—the first of its kind in the world.

In this competency-based program, BSN-prepared students receive advanced learning in critical thinking, conflict management, legal nursing, and quality management, plus ethics, leadership, and more. Nursing graduates from any U.S. accredited BSN program in their first year of practice, licensed or not licensed, can earn this important credential in one year through cutting-edge academic instruction and paid full-time employment.

LSSU devised learning strategies with working nurse residents in mind through a combination of virtual, simulation, in-person, asynchronous, and synchronous experiences in alignment with hands-on experiences in the healthcare setting. Nurse residents also are assigned both a nurse mentor and a nurse preceptor to assist in evidence-based learning and professional development.

LSSU’s Post-Baccalaureate Rural Nurse Residency Certificate Program is a win-win-win for young nurses, rural communities, and the healthcare industry. By teaching four C’s – confidence, competence, critical thinking, and clinical judgment—the program provides first-year nurses additional skills to further their career. In the process, the program makes more and better healthcare available for rural communities, offsetting some of the alarming nationwide inadequacies. Plus, by increasing retention of BSN-prepared RNs and reducing turnover, the program responds to the nursing shortage throughout the healthcare industry.


  • 12-month program
  • 24 credits virtual/hybrid
  • 36 hours weekly employment
  • Fluid entry points three times per year: May, September, and January

Rural Nurse Residency I (RNRP 501; 8 credit hours): Nurse residents explore and utilize skills learned in undergraduate nursing education to examine their role and responsibility in the practice environment. Through the use of simulation and actively engaging assignments, such as nursing grand rounds, residents begin to strengthen their confidence and competence in practice.

Rural Nurse Residency II (RNRP 502; 8 credit hours): Nurse residents broaden and regionalize their ability to apply evidence-based learning to practice. Critical thinking applications become more challenging as resident nurses become more experienced. Professional goals are established and a vision and outline for a professional framework in practice are developed.

Rural Nurse Residencey III (RNRP 503; 8 credit hours): Nurse residents universalize and affirm their transition to practice. Program mentoring and learning culminate in professional service engagement and completion of leadership experiences. Disparities and risk mitigation in rural health are identified through a final capstone project demonstrating improvements for access, equity, and diversity.


Outcomes for Nurse Residents who enroll in LSSU’s Post-Baccalaureate Rural Nurse Residency Certificate Program: 

  • Nurse Residents will develop a high level of independence and competence in rural health care settings
  • Nurse Residents will develop increased confidence in both independent and collaborative rural nursing practice
  • Nurse Residents will enhance their critical thinking and professional judgment abilities
  • Nurse Residents will gain rural nurse leadership skills applicable to rural nursing practice
  • Nurse Residents will develop their nursing role in relation to rural health policy
  • Nurse Residents will demonstrate altruism, human dignity, and social justice by improving accessibility, diversity, and equity of healthcare in rural communities


Studies prove that an unfortunate divide exists between education and practice in the first year of work for nursing graduates. This theory-practice gap causes new nurses to feel dissatisfied and, in some cases, underprepared. As a result, they may leave the profession. All of this negatively affects patient care.

In the theory-practice gap in rural healthcare, research indicates that BSN vacancies escalate; available services decline in quality and quantity; access to healthcare shrinks; health equity and diversity decrease; and closure looms for some organizations.

LSSU’s Post-Baccalaureate Rural Nurse Residency Certificate Program mitigates these problems by providing new nurses indispensable professional development in severely underrepresented healthcare demographics: rural settings. RN organizations, along with other healthcare sectors, benefit from a more capable workforce and improved patient care. Consequently, the program also helps counter revenue losses and liability issues that confront many organizations.


Dawn Halleck MSN, RN, NE-BC

Dawn Halleck MSN, RN, NE-BC

Dawn is a Lake Superior State University graduate who is the Chief Nursing Officer and Vice President of Patient Care Services at Munson Healthcare Otsego Memorial Hospital in Gaylord, Michigan. Dawn graduated from LSSU in December of 1994 and later went on to obtain her Master’s of Science in Nursing with a Leadership/Management focus from Walden University in 2013.
Dawn has spent the majority of her career at Munson Healthcare and often worked with the Human Resources Team and participated in and continues to attend recruitment events at LSSU.
Dawn has a diverse Nursing background including clinical education, acute care, acute care management and now executive level experience.
Dawn is married and has 2 adult daughters, one is in New York City and the other is in Nursing school in Traverse City, Mi. Dawn enjoys everything outdoors including hiking, golfing, snowshoeing, downhill skiing and camping. In addition, she enjoys traveling to Europe and different countries.


Jeremy Cannon, MSN, MBA, RN, NE-BC

Jeremy Cannon, MSN, MBA, RN, NE-BC

Jeremy Cannon is the Vice President- Chief Nursing Officer at Kalkaska Memorial Health Center, a critical access hospital located in Kalkaska, Michigan. He is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives and has completed the National Rural Health Association Fellowship Program. Jeremy appreciates the incredible impact rural hospitals can have on the communities they serve.

Laura Boucher RN, BSN

Laura Boucher RN, BSN

Clinic Nursing Supervisor Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians

A lifelong resident of the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, born and raised in Brimley, Michigan, I am a proud member of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. After obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Lake Superior State University in 1995, I worked for War Memorial Hospital on both the Med/Surgical Floor and in the Labor/ Delivery Department from 1995-2000. I have spent the last 20 years of my career giving back to my Native community as the Clinic Nursing Supervisor at the Sault Trible Health Center. Professionally, I am an active member of several organizational committees including, Infection Control, Electronic Health Records, Quality Improvement, Safety Committee, Risk Management, and most recently, a key member of our Incident Command Team during the CoVid-19 Pandemic. I am passionate about improving and providing good care to all people but especially those disadvantaged populations in our rural community. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor activities, reading, my beloved dog, Stanley, and spending time with my family.

Marilyn Bratt, PhD, RN

Marilyn Bratt, PhD, RN

I have been the Program Director/Primary Investigator of three large-scale HRSA program grants from 2004-2015. These grants have involved partnerships/collaborations with over 70 acute care rural and urban hospitals/healthcare centers in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and two healthcare cooperatives that provide resources and support for rural hospitals in Wisconsin and Illinois. These grants have provided funding to institute an evidenced-based nurse transition to practice program that addressed the needs of newly licensed nurses in rural and urban settings. Due to my research and expertise in this area I was instrumental in developing The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) national accreditation standards for nurse residency programs. I am a trained CCNE program evaluator and team leader for academic nursing programs and hospital-based residency program accreditation and have served as an evaluation consultant on another federal grant. These grants have enabled me to establish the groundwork for my research that focuses on new graduate nurse retention, differences between rural and urban nurses and examination of quality of care and the practice environment in rural hospitals. Throughout my research and these grant-funded projects I have demonstrated the ability to recruit institutional partners, forge relationships with key stakeholders, engage in multi-site data collection, provide educational training, develop sustainability plans, conduct focus groups, engage in formative and summative program evaluation, and work with advisory committees. In my academic role, I teach 100% online so I am accustomed to web-based learning and have expertise in developing web-based learning modules. I currently reside in a rural community and have strong ties to the area. I am well-aware of the health disparities of rural populations and have first-hand knowledge of the challenges that rural-dwellers face when accessing care, particularly specialists in oncology. Based on a continued commitment to rural and unserved populations, I submitted another HRSA grant proposal to establish rural training sites for nurse practitioner students, which was not funded.

Melanie Brim,  MHA

Melanie Brim, MHA

Melanie Brim is President and CEO of the Michigan Health Council, a non-profit organization whose focus is on building, enhancing and strengthening the healthcare workforce. Melanie and her organization are dedicated to building healthcare workforce capacity by developing innovative products and services, delivering resources and data, and forming strategic partnerships to create effective and sustainable solutions for workforce needs. In addition to her leadership role, Melanie oversees the Michigan Nursing Action Coalition and the Michigan Center for Nursing.
Prior to joining the Health Council, Melanie served as Senior Deputy Director of the Public Health Administration and Senior Deputy Director for Health Policy and Planning with the Michigan Department of Community Health. Her roles at the Department included management and direction of public health programs and policies, leadership in health planning, health policy, and access to care programs, as well as managing workforce development activities, the Certificate of Need Program, and the Office of the Chief Nurse Executive.
Melanie has also served as the Director, Bureau of Health Professions and managed the licensing and regulatory functions for over 400,000 health professionals in Michigan, representing 37 professions and 25 regulatory boards.
Prior to her 22 years of state service, Melanie worked in a variety of health care settings including acute care, community-based health care, mental health, correctional health care, long term care, and physician practice management.
Melanie is a graduate of Indiana University where she received both her B.S. in Medical Record Administration and her Master of Health Administration.

Steve Barnett DHA, CRNA, FACHE

Steve Barnett DHA, CRNA, FACHE

Steve has served on numerous State and National committees, and currently serves as a National Rural Health Association board member. Steve is committed to designing a rural healthcare delivery system that delivers on quality, does not compromise access and is efficient. Steve is the President/CEO of McKenzie Health System, a critical access hospital located in Sandusky, Michigan.


Affiliates Who HIRE LSSU Nurse Residents                                                                              

Sault Tribe Health Division

Kalkaska Memorial Health Center

McKenzie Health System

Mackinac Straights Health System

Munising Memorial Hospital


Michigan Works Association

Michigan Health Council

Michigan Health and Hospital Association

Michigan Nursing Action Coalition

Michigan Center for Rural Health


LSSU’s Post-Baccalaureate Rural Nurse Residency Certificate Program will graduate registered nurses equipped to address issues in retention, equity, access, and diversity in rural healthcare settings.


to learn about becoming an affiliate.

to serve on an advisory committee.

to hire Lake Superior State University nurses.

to seek more information about our nursing resident program.

to schedule an appointment for tuition assistance.