Nursing program receives high marks in recent examination

Daniel Purves, Staff Writer

Francis Marion University’s Nursing Department received the highest possible recommendation from the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) in a recent examination.

“I’m very proud of the faculty, university and students,” the chair of the Nursing Department, Dr. Ruth Wittman-Price, said. “We have a good program with much potential, which came shining through in the accreditation process.”

The NLNAC has three levels of accreditation. It can pass an institution for eight years, for five years or it can close the program. Francis Marion University was given the highest possible score and was fully accredited for eight years.

The three-member team from the NLNAC, who were initially delayed because of flight delays due to rainstorms in Charlotte, extensively scrutinized the Nursing Department from March 1-3.

The NLNAC team looked at six specific standards; mission and administrative capacity; faculty and staff; students; curriculum; resources; and outcomes.

“It was three gruelling days,” Wittman-Price said. “They talked to students, to faculty, to the

administration and the surrounding hospitals. They left no stone unturned.”

FMU President Dr. Fred Carter’s commitment to continually improve and expand the program was evident to the NLNAC team, fulfilling the requirement for the mission and administrative capacity of the Nursing Department to be congruent with those of Francis Marion University as a whole.

“Dr. Carter and Dr. Chapman, who serve as provosts to the department, have both been extremely supportive; they have been absolutely phenomenal,” Tracy Aniello, the nursing instructor who helped prepare for the accreditation process, said.

One of the key components the team was looking for with regard to the faculty and staff standard was whether at least 25 percent held an earned doctorate.

“We have a high percentage at Francis Marion, which is difficult to achieve,” Wittman-Price said. “Fifty percent of the teaching faculty are doctoral prepared.”

Aniello added that several others are also working on achieving this qualification, as well as participating in conferences, journals and studies to keep at the cutting edge of health care.

Every three years the curriculum is revised to make sure it is in sync with the state board exams, hitting the targets laid out by the NLNAC to be “regularly reviewed for rigor and currency,” according to Aniello.

The goal at the Nursing Department is to train students so that they have a strong grasp of both the science of the profession, and the humanistic side; seeing the patient as a person, not just a set of statistics.

To this end, the three Cs are promoted: competency, caring and commitment. Aniello believes that these characteristics produce superior nurses, reflected in the response from industry.

However, after a tour of McLeod Regional Medical Center and Carolinas Hospital System, and meeting with nursing services representatives, the NLNAC found that the Nursing Department could expand in the area of documenting the curriculum and program outcomes. They have been given two years to improve and submit a report on the progress.

The full report from the Commission will be released in June.