By Brett Turner - Contributing Writer
Wittenberg University’s nursing program was recently accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, a nationally-recognized accrediting agency.
The designation, which means the program has been nationally recognized for meeting the standards of its profession, also allows for more opportunities for students and adds prestige to the program which has been in place just a short time.
Not all nursing programs that apply for accreditation receive it and for Wittenberg’s program, which began in the spring 2014 semester, it is especially gratifying for Beth Sorensen, Wittenberg nursing program director and professor of nursing.
“We worked really, really hard and felt very blessed to receive it. It’s an affirmation our university is offering a high-quality program. Now we need to work to keep it,” she said.
The accreditation is of primary importance for students as they can now go on to graduate studies and apply for scholarships.
With several recent surveys suggesting health care will continue as a growing job field for several years to come, the program is important to a number of people. It has grown from seven students in the beginning to 75 currently enrolled.
Wittenberg offers two nursing options: Undergraduate Nursing Pathway, for students who are not yet registered nurses, and the Registered Nurse- Bachelor of Science in Nursing completion program that allows an RN with an associate’s degree to complete their nursing major and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Sorensen said while an associate’s degree can still get someone a nursing job, many of those graduates will eventually need to earn a bachelor’s of science, which is a preferred credential for hire.
“The first two years of a job can be challenging and it’s a way more efficient use of students’ time to get a Bachelors of Science in Nursing before getting a job,” said Sorensen.
The Pathways program is collaboration with Clark State Community College.
“We highly value our relationship with Clark State and Pathways,” said Sorensen.
A unique factor in the increasing enrollment according to Sorenson is the high ratio of student athletes in it. There seems to be a mutual interest in athletics and nursing, with around 40 percent of the overall participants being student athletes.
Sorensen said this as an asset.
“I see these as two full-time jobs and it’s hard to do both. If you can do both it shows you can succeed in this field,” she said.
Even after achieving accreditation, a school has to continue to meet and exceed requirements to maintain it. Sorensen said making sure its students have jobs, graduates are achieving and continuous quality improvement go into that.
The future includes forging relationships with area high schools to interest students in nursing sooner and forming an active partnership with Community Mercy Health Partners.
“We’re just getting started. There’s a lot more we can do,” Sorensen said.