TIME CAPSULE 1988 — It was announced in The Equinox on March 23, 1988, that Keene State College would be offering a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN).

For it’s first two years, it had a budget of $70,000 and then $80,000. The Chancellor of the University System of New Hampshire (USNH) at the time, Claire A. Van Ummerson, said the cost of the program would be split between KSC, the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and Cheshire Medical Center. The program combined academic resources at KSC and UNH and also utilized the clinical resources of Cheshire Medical Center.

In a press release about the program, it was explained that it would be conducted through a pre-existing bachelor’s degree at UNH and those who participated would therefore receive a UNH degree. Van Ummerson stated that all non-nursing classes would be hosted at KSC and meet the general education requirements of the program through the “quality academic programming and resources at Keene State College.”

President of Cheshire Medical Center at the time, Robert G. Langlais, predicted that, by 1990, “there will be a shortage of 400,000 BSN prepared nurses.” Langalis said that he thought enrollment to the program would be high. He reported that about 100 nurses who were employed at Cheshire Medical Center at the time who did not hold BSN degrees would qualify for the program. Langalis also predicted that many students who were interested in nursing and attending the New Hampshire Vocational Technical College in Clairmont would also be drawn to the program. Langalis said those interested in nursing would be able to “take lower level classes at Clairmont and higher level courses at Keene.”

Also in the press release, it was stated that credits for the program would be awarded for practical experience in the nursing world (such as those students who were working at Cheshire Medical Center) and students would be able to “challenge” courses by taking, and passing, exams instead of taking the class.

Van Ummerson announced that the program would not be ready to immediately accept students right out of high school, but was rather looking for non-traditional students and registered nurse students.

President of Keene State College at the time, Judith A. Sturnick, said that KSC was open to pursuing “something down the road that will provide a more generic nursing program.”

All information in this article about the past nursing program was obtained from the 1988 press release about the program reported in The Equinox.

In 2012, KSC admitted its first class of nursing students into its own accredited program. On the KSC website, it is stated that the program earned approval from the New Hampshire Board of Nursing in October, 2011, and accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). According to the KSC nursing homepage, the mission of the nursing program is to “educate future nursing leaders to provide innovative, high quality, accessible academic programs in the geographic regions of Keene and beyond. We teach practices that promote the health and wellbeing of diverse individuals, families, communities, populations and systems. We graduate competent nurses who make sound clinical judgments, communicate effectively and make practice decisions using the best evidence available.” The homepage also included part of a report from the Institute of Medicine called, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The report stated that the proportion of nurses with baccalaureate degrees would increase to 80 percent of registered nurses by 2020.

In KSC’s current nursing program, students can be admitted as “pre-nursing” majors right out of high school as long as they had a GPA of at least 3.25, maintained grades of “B” or above in their math and science courses and had an SAT math score of at least 530 or ACT math score of at least 22, according to the KSC nursing homepage.

From there, they can advance through the program, becoming a “pre-licensure” major while completing their clinical courses. They can put their nursing skills to the test in their junior and senior years at Cheshire Medical Center, the Cedarcrest Center for Children with Disabilities, Brattleboro Retreat (a psychiatric facility), Dartmouth Medical Center, the VA Medical Center, Home Care Services, local schools and clinics.

Next month, from April 11-13, the KSC nursing program will be re-evaluated by visitors from the CCNE. For more information on the site visit, see the article in The Equinox by Jessica Ricard, titled, “Program to be Re-Evaluated in April.”

Abbygail Vasas can be contacted at avasas@kscequinox.com

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