Chemistry cut for nursing students

The bad news is prospective nursing students will have one more test before they enter the program.
The good news is they won’t have to take Chemistry.
Starting in January 2015, a new test developed by ATI Nursing Education will be administered to prospective nursing students as a requirement to enter the program for October 2015.
Kimberly Lindquist, dean of Health Sciences, was part of the team that helped come up with the curriculum to fit the test.
“It’s a nursing entrance exam that determines the readiness for college level study,” she said. “It serves as a predictor of success in early nursing programs.”
The decision to add the test followed pressure from the agency that accredits nursing programs, which wanted MCCC to make its nursing program fit in a 5-semester course with 60 credits. 
Those 60 credits include both MCCC general education courses and nursing classes. Students who pass the test will no longer be required to take Chemistry before entering the nursing program.
According to Lindquist, the test doesn’t include college-level material. It’s composed of 170 multiple choice questions about reading, science, math, and language, and students will have three-and-a-half hours to complete the test.
It can be retaken up to three times but students will be charged  an $81 fee each time. 
If a student has already taken the test from another college, they would not need to retake the test.
According to Lindquist, something needed to be cut to get the program within the 60-credit limit.
“It was a hard decision,” Lindquist said, “but we looked at what other programs we’re doing and spoke to our national consultant and it was recommended that chemistry was not necessary at this level to be successful in the course.”
However, Vinnie Maltese, dean of the Math and Science Division, said he is concerned for the students.
Maltese said that even if students don’t need chemistry for the associate’s degree, they would need it for a bachelor’s.
He referred to a student from the 80s who only took math 090. Now the student needs further math courses to complete his bachelor’s of science in Nursing. 
“It does nothing but hurt students,” he said. “The burden is going to be on the student to do more in less time.”
MCCC student Julia Wehner will be starting the nursing program next fall.
She said she disagrees with the new test.
“Any other university is still going to want you to take microbiology and chemistry, so you’ll end up paying more money in the long run to take them elsewhere,” she said. 
Lindquist said she still advises students to take the science course at MCCC if they are pursuing a further education. 
“We would love to require students to take it but we have to work within the standards of criteria that we have and there is just not enough space for that at this level,” she said.
Student Jacob Gonyea said that he agrees with eliminating the course from the program.
“I would say it’s a good idea because a lot of practicing nurses I’ve talked to, in the long run, say they don’t apply it to their job,” he said. 
Lindquist said that every decision that’s been made has been made in the best interest of students.
“I’m so proud of our nursing students,” she said. “I have nothing to complain about when it comes to our students.”
Lindquist said the accreditation agency is forcing the changes.
“What we had before was working so well, we didn’t have the pressure from the accreditation agency to make any changes, so it kind of goes back to that philosophy, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” she said. “Well now the standards have changed.”
She also said that the entrance exam test is not unusual; in fact, it’s almost unusual that MCCC didn’t offer it before.
“We’re probably slow to adopt this testing,” she said. “Some students are surprised to find out that that we haven’t been using one and not surprised that we’re going to that.”
Wehner said she thinks the test doesn’t seem necessary.
“The test seems almost redundant to me, because students already have to take the ACT, which is supposed to help see where somewhere is in their education,” she said.
Lindquist said that for now there will be both tests, but there is a chance in the future to drop one as a requirement.
“All of the decisions that are related to the curriculum come from the faculty,” she said. 

Nursing professsor Holly Boylan prepares a mannequin for class.