Montcalm Community College seeking nursing accreditation

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 8:34 am on Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Montcalm Community College nursing student checks a senior citizen’s blood pressure during a November event where nursing students gave foster grandparents a required physical. — File photo

SIDNEY — Montcalm Community College’s (MCC) nursing program is getting a major overhaul heading into the 2012 spring semester.

MCC has reworked the curriculum in the nursing program to help both the students and the program itself to be more efficient with a better chance of job placement in today’s market.
The college hopes to have the program become nationally accredited through the National League of Nursing by the fall of 2012.

“That program requires us to keep the nursing curriculum under 74 total course credits,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Spohr told the college’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
That number is down 22 credits from 96 under the previous curriculum.

Spohr said he believes the reduction in credits should lessen students’ workloads.

“We combined certain classes and we got rid of some and checked to make sure all the classes students are taking are absolutely necessary,” he said.

The new curriculum will begin Jan. 12 — the start of the spring semester. The national accreditation process will begin on July 1.

Spohr said there’s a “huge” reason the college decided to apply for national accreditation for its nursing program.

“Somebody who comes out of our previous program, they become an ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing), they receive their state certification, but they can’t go state-to-state when looking for work,” he said. “You can be an ADN in Michigan, but not in other states with a degree from Michigan. Under the nationally accredited program, students will have the opportunity to pursue a career outside the state of Michigan without any problem.”

Spohr said the changes have been in motion since the summer of 2010 and the staff has handled the change very well.

“These are changes that I’m really glad we’re making,” he said. “The nursing faculty has been working very hard to make this happen. We still have to juggle students completing the previous program, who are not on the new curriculum. But we also have a third group of students who are shifting from the old curriculum to the new one.”

Spohr said the issue of the program waiting list was another reason the college decided to pursue national accreditation and a new curriculum.

“We admit 40 students per semester and it is a two-year program,” he said. “When it became time to seat the next class, we’d have to go down this huge list. Sometimes a student who was number 150 on the list would be the 20th person ready to get in.”

Now students can’t get on the waiting list until their 32.5 general education credits are complete. Those come from 10 classes, including biology, math and chemistry.

Students also have three nursing classes required as prerequisites to enter the program totaling at 4 credits.

College Trustee Carol Deuling-Ravell believes the number of students on the wait list will shrink eventually.

“Pessimistically, we’re telling students it’s a two-year wait,” Deuling-Ravell said. “Personally, I think that figure will be more like a year and a half. By the time we get to that year and a half, we’re going to have a pretty good group of pre-nursing certificate students waiting in the balance. I think the group that’s waiting is going to get a little bit smaller.”

Spohr said the transition has been going smoothly and is fully confident the nursing program will be nationally accredited when the college applies later this summer.

“The state of Michigan board of nursing is pushing all colleges to go toward NLN, because once you do that they also realize it’s transferable. We’re trying to get ahead of the curve in doing this. I think we’re a little further ahead of other colleges in this position, because our curriculum is already adjusted and in place for this next semester.”

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