Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nursing Programs in 3 Jacksonville Schools on Probation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Nursing Programs in 3 Jacksonville Schools on Probation

Article excerpt

Byline: Tracy Jones

While Jacksonville's two universities have shown exceptional pass rates for their nursing programs, a handful of other schools are inadequately preparing their students to pass licensing tests - leaving graduates saddled with debt and without the certification needed to enter the nursing field.

Three area schools currently are on probation for failing to meet proper testing guidelines set by the state's board of nursing - Florida State College at Jacksonville's advanced technical certificate program, and for-profit schools Sanford-Brown Institute and the Cambridge Medical Institute.

These programs offer associate degrees or certificates and often promise quick employment. But critics say potential nurses in programs on probation aren't receiving the proper education needed to compete with other nursing graduates.

FSCJ has three nursing programs - a bachelor of science four-year program, an associate degree program and the advanced technical certificate program, the only one of the three on probation for poor testing results by its students.

FSCJ's nursing program is the ninth largest in the country, said Barbara Darby, president of the college's North Campus.

"Programs go through heights," Darby said. "Over the past two years, our graduates have not performed to the level we need them to on that licensure exam."

The college recently identified factors to improve pass rates, including admission requirements and curriculum changes. Darby said the college plans to bring in consultants to review the curriculum to offer outside perspective. These are minor fixes to increase pass rates, and the probation doesn't impact the school's standing in the community, Darby said.

"Our program has been in this community for many years; we have a track record of producing graduates that meet the workforce needs," Darby said. "That's the strength you can't build overnight."

Also on the probation list is the local Sanford-Brown Institute, which was placed on probation in February 2012. The school has a 67 percent pass rate and increased its scores by 15 percent in the past year, said Jennifer Mullings, the school's director of education. She said the improvement is the result of curriculum changes and test preparation assistance. Less than 20 students are currently in the program.

"As we were developing and beginning to implement some of our changes, including a variety of curriculum enhancements, we suspended enrollments for a period of time," Mullings said.

Sanford-Brown offers students the ability to earn an associate degree in 18 months, but its students are encouraged to go on to receive their bachelor's degree for further education, Mullings said. …

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