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Edison's nursing program gets accreditation

Edison's nursing program gets accreditation

By Matt Grant. CREATED Mar 15, 2012

FORT MYERS - Sixteen months after Edison's bachelor of science in nursing students were told national accreditation was a "few months" away, the program has finally received that national stamp of approval.

"We've received many calls in the past couple days with students that were stepping out," said interim nursing director Denise McNulty, "and now they want to re-enroll."

Surrounded by vintage uniforms and equipment at Edison's nursing museum, officials announced their BSN program is going to be nationally accredited - something that isn't mandatory but is required by many grad schools.

"The RN to BSN program at the Edison State College school of nursing has been approved for full accreditation," said McNulty.

The announcement, made Thursday, comes after representatives with the National League for  Nursing Accrediting Commission finished up their campus visit and determined the program met their rigid qualifications.

Students misled

A year after the program started in 2009, the college had been promising national accreditation to students like Ashley Blakely.

Blakely and other students say they were lied to at orientation about the program's accreditation status. In a letter, dated November 2010, nursing students were told the BSN program would be accredited in the "next few months" - which wasn't true.

Fox 4 broke the story last summer that the college hadn't even applied for accreditation when that promise was made and wouldn't do so for several months.

The college admitted students were misled and offered an apology a few days after the story ran.

"It took an enormous amount of invested time to work to succeed in this program," said Blakely, "and it's all wasted."

Now that the program has been approved for accreditation, McNulty finally agreed to answer our questions.

"I mentioned to Matt [Grant] I've been ducking him for interviews," said McNulty at the news conference, "because I had to stay focused on the mission we were on."

A mission she says was complicated by the decisions of those running the program before she was tapped to take over and clean things up.

"We've accomplished a lot in a short period of time," said McNulty, who says they scrambled to get the application in after taking over last year. "Could this have been done earlier? I can't comment on that."

McNulty also resisted speculating why her predecessors made promises they couldn't keep.

"Why tell students in the first place we're going to be accredited when an application was never sent out?," asked Fox 4 reporter Matt Grant.

"I don't know," said McNulty. "A case of wishful thinking and hope? I don't know."

Delaying graduation

About 50 current students are now delaying graduating, McNulty told reporters, to make sure they get something the college had been promising for more than a year - a nationally accredited degree.

"I feel badly that that happened," said McNulty, "but I think we were able to get past that."

It's little comfort to students who have already graduated since the accreditation is not retroactive. However, anyone graduating this semester and beyond will get it.

"Whenever you have a school achieve anything in a positive regard," said McNulty, "graduates will always benefit from that."

The college's associate nursing program is nationally accredited.

The NLNAC will vote on the recommendation to accredit the 16-month BSN program in July. If approved, it will last five years.

The college would have to reapply in 2017.

The application process cost the college $10,000, according to McNulty.

What accreditors looked at

The NLNAC quizzed the college on a number of different areas to make sure they met their requirements.

In particular, they looked at six areas and determined the BSN program met each one:

1. Program operation (program bylaws, organizational chart, administration)
2. Faculty (appropriate number of teachers)
3. Student services
4. Curriculum and course syllabus
5. Resources for students (library services, financial aid)
6. Outcomes (student and employer surveys)

Matt Grant