Every 10 years, the Dr. Lillian R. Goodman Department of Nursing prepares an exhaustive self-study in preparation for a re-accreditation visit from Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
A CCNE team will visit campus to conduct the 10-year assessment Feb. 22 – 24. “We are all excited about the visit as it again brings a sharp focus on the program and the ability of all of us to look deeply at ways to move forward and improve and enhance our already strong program,” said Linda S. Larrivee, dean of the School of Science, Technology and Health.
Recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency/fellowship programs in nursing. Through the re-accreditation process, the university has the opportunity to look at the program’s strengths and identify any areas that can be improved.
Along with the Nursing Department, the university itself is accredited through the New England Commission of Higher Education. Several other programs on campus also are accredited through agencies specific to their fields, including the Occupational Therapy Department, the Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Program, the Chemistry Department, and the Education Department.
When the accreditors arrive Feb. 22, they will have read the Nursing Department’s self-study and will begin looking for data that supports what the study has reported. “They will interview people, look at our website, and examine our files and meeting notes,” Larrivee said. “I believe they will find that it’s already a strong program. The purpose of re-accreditation by any accreditation agency is to keep strong programs strong and help them get even stronger.” Like all accredited departments, the Nursing Department also must submit yearly reports to the accrediting agency, she said.
Among positives the CCNE likely will home in on is the strength of the curriculum, according to the self-study. “It’s a very good curriculum and the way we know that is we have one of the highest NCLEX pass rates in the Commonwealth, which shows our students are very well-prepared to be nurses,” Larrivee said, referring to the challenging national exam students must pass to become licensed as registered nurses.
Also, the report shows that surveys of employers indicate high approval of the skill level of Worcester State nursing graduates. “The employers that hire them are extremely happy with their skills,” she said. “Our students and alumni are respected in the community.”
The self-study also highlights the successful onboarding of Becker College nursing students into the Worcester State program after Becker announced it would close at the end of the spring 2021 semester.
“When Becker closed, we were the university that Becker came to and said,’ Would you help us out?’ and we stepped up,” Larrivee said. The challenges were many, however, because the curricula of the two institutions were different.
“We had to look to see exactly what they had taken, how it aligned or did not align with our curriculum, and what was missing,” she said. “We had to design, almost for each one of them, their individual pathway to meet the requirements to graduate from Worcester State without having to repeat a lot of courses they already had taken.”
The program recently received a Nursing Pathways Grant from the state which will bring $1 million to campus for planning for an expanded Nursing Department footprint and to buy the most updated equipment.
“This will give us the means to design the space we need to train nurses for the second half of the 21st century and to continue to offer an exceptionally strong program that helps the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with its continuing need for additional nurses,” said Larrivee.
The self-study notes some challenges, including the difficulty, at this point, of assessing the impact of the pandemic on the retention of nurses, an ongoing challenge. The impact of the pandemic on the recruitment and retention of nurse educators also needs more analysis, the study says
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