SPSCC’s nursing program began accepting applications for Fall 2014 on April 1. Following the program’s loss of national accreditation last year, the program stopped accepting applications and underwent a major redesign. The college is now the first in Washington state to implement a new Direct Transfer Agreement associate degree for nursing.
Rather than working to alter the existing program, SPSCC decided to completely redesign the program, said Associate Dean of Nursing Laurie Choate. The redesign will allow the program to “better meet the healthcare workforce needs of the South Puget Sound area. As the health care changes in response to the Affordable Care Act, educational programs for medical students also need to change,” she said.
The program will be a part of the new Direct Transfer Agreement in Washington state for nursing, said Choate. This transfer agreement will allow students to complete their prerequisites in one year, attend nursing school for two, and then transfer to a four-year program at a Washington state college or university to finish their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.
According to Choate, there are also logistical changes in the program. A lottery system will be implemented for admission to the program. 10 of the 32 spots available for 2015 admission will be reserved for students who completed all of their prerequisites at SPSCC. This detail is important as it directly supports SPSCC students, she said.
“The lottery system will also increase diversity of the student population enrolled in nursing school,” said Choate. Evidence from past students demonstrated that GPA is not the best indicator of success in the program, said Dean of College Relations Kellie Purce Braseth. Since perfect grades will no longer guarantee admission to the program, nursing students will be able to spend less time and money chasing a 4.0 GPA, said Choate.
“The nursing industry is demanding more of nurses and therefore more of nursing education programs,” said Purce Braseth.
Changes in the nursing program center around integrated curriculum including health promotion, health restoration and maintenance, and the acute care needs of a diverse population, said Choate. This direction is opposed to the previous, more separated model where specific courses such as pediatrics or obstetrics were offered.
Additionally, the curriculum is designed to build on the work of the previous quarters, becoming increasingly more complex, said Purce Braseth. First, students will learn about prevention and education, then subsequently move on to illness and treatment.
“Things like nutrition, ethics, policy are weaved throughout the curriculum to help students understand that nursing is holistic in nature, and all components of a person impact their health and wellness,” said Purce Braseth.
The emphasis on maintaining and restoring health will prepare nurses to work in more expansive environments. The role of nurses is moving outside of the hospital overall. Nurses trained in this sort of program will be able to work in non-hospital settings, said Choate.