Nursing program clears accreditation hurdle

MCCC’s highly successful nursing program appears to be back on track after receiving a warning from its accreditation agency in 2011.

The program, which was put on warning status during its last comprehensive review in 2011, was re-evaluated by a site team this October, according to Kim Lindquist, Dean of Health Sciences.

“The first hurdle is complete,” Lindquist said.

Lindquist added the visit from the site team was a success; the team is recommending continued accreditation for the nursing program. The visit lasted two-and-a-half days to assure that concerns from 2011 were addressed, and all standards were met.

To continue as an accredited nursing program is a three-step process, Lindquist said.

The first step was the visit by the site team. Next comes the report to an evaluation review panel in January, and the vote in March by the board of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

A final determination for continued accreditation is not expected to be announced until April, 2014. 

Lindquist said the warning status was issued due to concerns the ACEN had with the program meeting certain standards.  

ACEN has six different standards, with numerous criteria under each standard. Every two to eight years ACEN holds a comprehensive review to assure that nursing programs are compliant with these standards.

A complete revision of the nursing program has been in the works since their 2011 visit.

“Our entire curriculum has been revised; we have a new mission and vision, core values, and learning outcomes,” Lindquist said. “We also have all new program evaluation tools as well.”

Lindquist praised the faculty of the nursing program from the top down.

“They are really the ones that pushed the entire process,” Lindquist said. “This is a very small amount of time for this amount of work.”

Michelle Wyatt, a student in the nursing program, said she was initially nervous about the program being on warning status.

“I was at first, but after seeing what they put into it, I was less nervous,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt’s concern with the program losing its accreditation was that the credits she had would not be able to transfer if she wanted to continue her education and receive a bachelor’s degree.

She also said that an accredited degree is more viable then a non-accredited degree when it comes to getting a job.

Wyatt went on to say that the nursing program faculty offered a meeting to allow students to address their concerns, and to get a better understanding of what was going on.

“I was very confident after the meeting,” she said.

Wyatt said she was aware of the nursing program being on warning status when she was accepted into the program. She said that she decided to join MCCC’s nursing program despite the warning status due to its very high reputation.

The nursing program at MCCC has been very successful in recent years. A high number of students who finish the Registered Nursing program and receive their Associates of Applied Science degree in Nursing have passed qualifying exams.

According to Lindquist, graduates must past the NCLEX exam, which is a national board exam required to practice as a registered nurse (RN).

In 2012, 96 percent of MCCC’s RN students passed the NCLEX exam. The national benchmark is 89 percent.

Cindy Pitney, a third semester RN student, said the program does a great job of preparing the students for the NCLEX exam. She said the tests in her classes are more focused on critical thinking rather than knowledge-based information, which is similar to the NCLEX exam.

The practical nursing degree, also available at MCCC, has an NCLEX exam as well; students from MCCC passed this exam at 100 percent in 2012.

MCCC’s nursing program also produces successful job placement rates. 

A survey is available for students to fill out six to twelve months after they receive their degree. Lindquist said 75 percent of those who responded were employed.

Wyatt said that the program is a challenge, but worth it.

“Nobody can understand what we go through; it is a very rigorous and rewarding program,” she said.