Nursing program back on track

Laura Romaniello / Art Director

Emily Carstensen

Staff Writer

After their two year probation, KSC’s Nursing Program is finally getting on track to retaining their accreditation. The accreditation would mean the program gets the Board of Nursing’s approval, which ultimately allows graduates to be more valuable and competitive in the job market.

The nursing program was put on an approved on probation status by the Board of Nursing in 2016 because of low scores on the National Council Licensure Examination, more commonly referred to as NCLEX. The NCLEX is a national exam that nursing students must take once they’ve graduated to become a registered nurse in the United States and Canada.

When the program was put on the approved status, Dr. Patricia Shinn was brought on to take on the position Director of Nursing. Since her arrival at KSC, students have said the program has seen nothing but positive changes. Each year the NCLEX scores rise higher than the year before.

“This probation has, all-in-all, been very positive for the program. However, it is hurting our recruitment. Students looking to come to KSC to pursue nursing see that the program has been on probation, and automatically think they’re better off going somewhere else where they know for sure the school’s program is approved. My hope is that once these 2019 seniors graduate with the high NCLEX scores that we’re anticipating, incoming students will start seeing the success that this program is providing to enrolled students and choose KSC,” Shinn said.

To be able to join the Nursing Program as an incoming freshman looking to take Pre-Nursing courses, the following requirements need to be met: a 3.25 GPA from high school, either “A” or “B” grades in math and science courses and either a 520 math SAT score or a 22 math ACT score. For juniors looking to pursue nursing and take Pre-Licensure courses, an overall 3.4 GPA is required along with a 3.25 GPA in science courses, either an “A” or “B” grade in the four science courses: Chemistry, Anatomy & Physiology I, Anatomy & Physiology II and Microbiology. Juniors also need success with the Nursing Basic Math Competency exam, and completion with a “Proficient” scoring on the Test of Essential Academic Skills.

James Halkiotis, a senior Nursing major, said that while some of these requirements are vigorous, they push him to work his hardest to become the best nurse he can be.

“These requirements are rigorous but necessary. You have to be dedicated to this field of work to be a good nurse one day. Other changes include what specific material is focussed on, and where we spend time as far as clinical locations go. These changes have all been beneficial, as seen from last year’s senior class’ massive success with the NCLEX,” Halkiotis said.

The nursing program is now approved on probation, and it’s a big step towards gaining full accreditation, which Dr. Shinn said she believes will happen when she meets with national accreditors on October 2 to October 5.

From a 48.28 percent NCLEX pass rate at KSC in 2014, to now a 93.2 percent NCLEX pass rate in 2018, things are definitely heading in the right direction.

“The 2019 group of seniors are stronger than the 2018. While the 2018 group had NCLEX scores higher than the national average, our goal is to have a 100 percent pass rate with our senior class,” Shinn said.

While a lot of the new success is thanks to the students’ hard work and dedication, Junior Nursing Student Brett Roberts, said they wouldn’t be where they are without the help of their program director, Dr. Patricia Shinn.

“They brought me in because I really know what I’m doing. I’m confident in the curriculum changes we’ve made, and the direction this program is going in. The longest any nursing director at KSC has remained a director is two years. I think that’s a big reason why the program was struggling so much — because there wasn’t any consistency lasting longer than two years. I plan to stay here until I retire and really get this program back on track and on the top,” Shinn said.

Brett Roberts said the nursing program being on probation has actually made students stronger in their field of study and feel more confident about the program.

“I would also like to note that the probationary status of the nursing program has not affected any of us negatively, as it has allowed for the program to strengthen, and better prepares students for lifelong success. Unfortunately, the derogatory meaning of ‘probationary’ has led members of the community to jump to conclusions,” Roberts said.

       Emily Carstensen can be contacted at

ecarstensen@kscequinox.com