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Northern's College of Nursing will undergo outside review


At the request of the Montana State University-Northern College of Nursing, the dean of the MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing is bringing an evaluator from Alaska to review Northern's program.

"We wanted someone to look at it," Trish Goudie, dean of Northern's College of Nursing, said today. "We have a pretty strong program here and we're pretty proud of it."

The program drew fire this spring when students who failed to graduate from the nursing program complained to the Board of Regents.

MSU-Bozeman contracted with Tina DeLapp, director of the nursing program at the University of Alaska-Anchorage, to evaluate the program. DeLapp will examine Northern's curriculum and procedures, and interview students at the college, Jean Ballantyne, dean of the MSU-Bozeman College of Nursing, said in a press release.

Across Northern's three nursing campuses, in Havre, Great Falls and Lewistown, 20 of 51 candidates for graduation in the two-year program failed to graduate, Goudie said.

Students complained to the regents at their May and June meetings that the college had adopted unfair practices and provided a poor education. In June, some said they were being unfairly denied re-admission to the college.

The regents in June directed the students to go through the university's established appeals process. Only if they were unsatisfied with the results of the appeals should they return to the board, the regents said.

Northern Chancellor Alex Capdeville said today he thinks the students got caught in the middle as the school was raising its standards. He has ruled on one grading appeal so far, and found in favor of the faculty, he said, adding that he is not aware if other appeals have been filed.

Two other students appealed the school's decision not to re-admit them. Those students dropped their appeals after the college faculty decided to let them back in, Capdeville said.

"We need to get this behind us so we can implement the new standards," he said. "I think we're back on track."

When the college changed its standards over the last two school years, it decided not to exclude current students from the new standards but instead to provide them with tutoring and other help, Goudie said.

Goudie said most of the students who were unhappy with the program have been readmitted or retaken finals. Of eight students who failed the final in a geriatrics class, five passed a retake of the test and the three who didn't are now retaking the class. Three of the five who passed have now graduated, and two are completing other coursework, she said.

The college decided to let students who failed two classes be re-admitted to the program. Normally, failure of two classes prevents re-admission.

Goudie said the faculty decided to re-admit them because of the change in the program's standards.

"We decided it would be in the best interest of the students," she said. "With a little help they'll make fine students."


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