Three advisers are scheduled to come to Montana State University-Northern to take a look at the nursing program to see if they can find issues that need addressing
Dr. Cynthia Gustafson, the executive director of the Montana State Board of Nursing, will conduct an on-site review of the program Oct. 16 and 17, according to a press release from the university.
Gustafson will meet with students, faculty and administrators to come up with recommendations on what the school can do to maintain the quality of their nursing program, the release says.
In addition to Gustafson, two outside nursing educators will be coming to do the same thing as Gustafson. The two educators are from Angelo State University in Texas; Chancellor Jim Limbaugh’s former place of employment. They are scheduled to be on campus Nov. 12-15.
Limbaugh was the vice president of strategy, planning and policy at ASU. He also held positions of interim provost and vice president for academic and student affairs at ASU.
According to a nursing faculty member, who asked not to be identified, Gustafson was asked to give the evaluation by the nursing faculty themselves after the two outside consultants were called.
Nursing faculty feared a conflict of interests brought the request.
“Dr. Gustafson is aware of this visit and is in full support of an analysis by dispassionate, impartial educators, whose reports will complement her findings and, together, will make recommends,” the press release said.
The release said the main reason for the calling of the outside sources is that success rates for the nursing courses are down and students are finding the coursework too difficult. Around 55 percent of students completed the program in 2012, according to a self-evaluation made by the nursing program.
This is down from 2011, which saw a 67 percent rate, but it is still higher than the low rates 2009 and 2010 saw; 43 percent and 33 percent respectively.
Another issue the consultants will have to address is the overburden of work for the limited staff at the College of Nursing. A full-time professor in the program teaches 24 credit hours, but many of the faculty are taking on more than 30 credit hours, according to employees in the nursing department.
“It’s difficult to find instructors for the program,” Said Jim Potter, MSU-Northern Director of University Relations. He said that this difficulty is in part due to the higher wages potential candidates can make if they choose to practice their skills instead of teach them.