The Morrison Family College of Health just passed three major milestones on its way to launching its proposed bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs. It received the green light from several local and national governing bodies to proceed to the next stage of opening its School of Nursing.
Building new nursing programs from the ground up is no easy task. Due to the highly specialized nature of the field of nursing, new programs must gain approval from local and national governing bodies that evaluate the rigor and comprehensiveness of proposed nursing programs.
To begin the nursing programs, St. Thomas must receive approval from the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE), the Minnesota Board of Nursing (BON) and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). In seeking accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), St. Thomas must also gain membership in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). CCNE is the autonomous accrediting arm of AACN and uses AACN’s standards for baccalaureate and higher nursing education programs.
“These various organizations require extensive documentation and we have worked diligently and thoroughly to submit the required information,” said Dr. Martha Scheckel, founding director of the School of Nursing. “We are confident that our submissions demonstrate that we are ready to provide high-quality nursing education to our future students.”
In the past month, MOHE enthusiastically approved St. Thomas’ proposals for both bachelor’s and master’s nursing programs. Both proposed programs are intended to be pre-licensure programs, meaning they will prepare students without previous nursing backgrounds to become licensed registered nurses.
The Minnesota Board of Nursing also approved St. Thomas’ document of intent to start these two nursing programs. The document of intent is the first phase of a two–phase process, and the BON unanimously voted to allow St. Thomas to move to the second phase of the process. The AACN additionally granted St. Thomas provisional institutional membership – the first step in gaining full membership.
“These latest approvals are a testament to Dr. Scheckel and the many leaders from within the Morrison Family College of Health and from across the university who have stepped up to help develop the School of Nursing at St. Thomas,” said Dr. MayKao Y. Hang, vice president and founding dean of the Morrison Family College of Health. “We are moving very quickly to bring these proposed programs to future students.”
Scheckel and Hang also recently hired Victor Quiñones as the school’s clinical placement specialist and Heather Anderson as clinical faculty in the role of simulation educator. These inaugural hires will continue the work to gain approvals from all four governing bodies throughout the spring and summer. St. Thomas will also seek CCNE accreditation, which can be granted after enrolling students in the nursing program for two semesters. The school fully expects its first bachelor’s and master’s students to graduate from a CCNE-accredited program.
“We are confident that we will begin enrolling nursing in the fall of 2022, on target with our original timeline,” said Hang.