Coe College Center for Health & Society guided by National Board of Advisors; Coe forms partnerships with UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s and Mercy Medical Center to offer nursing students financial aid and jobs

Center for Health & Society logoCoe College is partnering with UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s and Mercy Medical Center to provide nursing students with financial aid and guaranteed employment upon graduation. Coe students will have the opportunity to participate in one of the two partnerships that best meets their needs, while also helping to close a gap in health care staffing shortages. This is one of the many unique educational opportunities provided to Coe students as part of the new David and Janice McInally Center for Health & Society (CHS).  

Coe’s long-standing relationship with the two health organizations stems from years of collaboration and Coe’s convenient location within the MedQuarter Regional Medical District (MedQ) in Cedar Rapids. As one of the most selective and rigorous nursing programs in the state, Coe nursing students complete an unheard of three full terms of one-on-one clinical rotations, many of whom do so at UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s and Mercy Medical Center.

Students are already benefiting from CHS programs and connections, but the new facility will open this fall, further strengthening Coe’s ties with the MedQ. It will increase access to state-of-the-art medical technology, workshops, guest speakers and networking opportunities. A National Board of Advisors guides CHS and will continue to foster collaboration between local and national health leaders. The advisory board includes prominent local leaders such as Tanager Place CEO Okpara Rice, Mercy Medical Center President and CEO Tim Charles and Medical Director, MercyCare Business Health Solutions Dr. Tim Sagers ’97, and UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s President and CEO Michelle Niermann and Chief Medical Officer and Associate Medical Director of Hospital-Based Providers Dr. Dustin Arnold ’91.

"It is a delight to work alongside nurses from Coe because they come in with extensive knowledge and an exceptional attitude. I hope these partnerships encourage even more Coe nursing graduates to stay in Cedar Rapids,” Arnold said. “Bigger picture, doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers rely on an extensive support system and the progressive vision of the CHS to educate everyone from accountants to x-ray technicians will help establish a stronger foundation for the entire health care system." 

“The CHS is a revolutionary concept and facility for our students and community that will bring new talent into the ever-changing health care field locally and throughout the region. The CHS will cater to every skill and major, giving every student a path to a career in health care. It's a privilege to have national leaders in the field join our efforts as part of the National Board of Advisors. And it’s a great honor to contribute to these initiatives together,” Coe College President David Hayes ’93 said. 

Nursing partnerships with UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s and Mercy Medical Center

UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Senior Student Promise Program is now available to Coe’s graduating nursing students. There are four 2022 graduates participating in the program that covered the tuition and fees of their final two terms at Coe. 

In exchange, students accept a guaranteed job offer to work in a unit or department in critical need of staff for a minimum of 18 months post–graduation but must secure an Iowa Nursing License first after passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) – which Coe grads pass with scores above the national average. A sign-on bonus will also be available for Kohawks joining select inpatient nursing units such as critical care, adult acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, behavioral health, emergency department and operating rooms.

Meanwhile, Coe nursing students also have the option to enroll in the Earn and Learn Program with Mercy Medical Center as early as their sophomore year. Mercy Medical Center will provide students with financial aid and part-time jobs at the hospital while they complete their studies. 

Coe nursing students will work for a minimum of 20 hours a month, but scheduling is flexible for students interested in working more hours at the hospital. After graduation, Kohawks will have full-time registered nursing jobs which they must agree to keep for 18 months as a requirement of the program. These job offers will help staff areas in need of help. One Coe nursing student is already part of this program. 

Both of these partnerships align with Coe’s commitment to expose students to hands-on experiences and real world opportunities – 100 percent of Coe students complete an internship, research or off-campus study program. Additionally, Nursing Department Chair and Associate Professor Heide Bursch shares that Coe’s small class sizes foster discussion-based lectures, interactive learning and individualized attention from faculty that set up students for success.

“The unparalleled clinical experience, above average NCLEX pass rates and professionalism land Coe nursing students with a job offer well before graduation. With a majority of graduating Kohawks choosing to launch their nursing careers in Cedar Rapids, these partnerships amplify our mission to cultivate nurses invested in making a difference in our communities,” Bursch said. 


Coe College offers superb academics and exciting co-curricular activities in a thriving urban setting that promotes student growth and success. Established in 1851, Coe has a national reputation for academic excellence enhanced by a student-centered, highly supportive campus environment. Coe’s vibrant Cedar Rapids location provides an abundance of internships for students and career opportunities for graduates.

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