Nursing program loses accreditation


Sarah E. Cruz, News Editor

In early March, Marywood’s nursing program was “denied continuing accreditation,” according to the website of the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC).

According to the NLNAC Accreditation Manual, a nursing program that has been issued a warning status or conditions is denied continuing accreditation when it is “found to be in continued non-compliance with any Accreditation Standard.” The decision was made based on a follow-up report the university submitted last fall.

A memo President Sr. Anne Munley, IHM, sent to members of the Marywood community stated that the NLNAC cited the program for failing to comply with certain “Faculty and Staff” and “Outcomes” standards. These include “minimal credentialing of all Nursing faculty,” “assessment and evaluation of the student learning outcomes, program outcomes and NLNAC Standards,” “the use of aggregated evaluation findings to inform program decision and to maintain and improve student learning outcomes” and “licensure examination pass-rates meeting or exceeding the national mean.”

On Wednesday, April 10, the university held a meeting for the program’s 117 students and their parents explaining the institution’s plans for the program’s future. Sr. Anne, accompanied by university administration and nursing department faculty, said that the university disputes the NLNAC’s findings and is simultaneously appealing its decision and reapplying for its accreditation.

Marywood is also applying for accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing in Education (CCNE) a branch of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

According to the official press release issued by Sr. Anne on the same day as the meeting, the nursing program will remain open.

“We are very proud of our long history of a quality nursing program, exceptional facilities, outstanding relationships with clinical partners in our community, and our professional faculty,” she stated.

Sr. Anne also stated that colleges and universities voluntarily undergo accreditation procedures in order for an independent professional association to recognize that an academic program meets established standards.

Despite the university’s attempts to reassure students and their loved ones of a positive outcome, some remained skeptical.

“They’re giving us empty hope,” stated Julie Graziano, junior. She and other students are concerned that nursing jobs and graduate schools may require candidates to have graduated from an accredited nursing program.

Graziano also said that even though the university informed the nursing students of the accreditation loss on April 9, some students knew earlier from doing their clinical work at area medical facilities.

“We heard from staff members last month in the hospital […] When we brought that concern [to the nursing professors] they squashed it and said it was only a rumor,” she stated.

This is not the first time the nursing program has encountered difficulties. On November 13, 2011, Dr. Mary Alice McCormick, chair of the department, sent a letter to students informing them that the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing had downgraded the program’s standing from full to provisional approval status.

According to the letter, the program’s NCLEX pass rate of 72.73 percent fell below the state’s 80 percent pass rate standard.  The NCLEX is the national nursing licensing exam that students take after graduation. The program’s most recent pass rate is 77.78 percent.

Many students said they are, or are considering, transferring even though other schools may not take their nursing credits.

“We want our money back for our classes because we can’t transfer them,” said Virginia Sharff, junior. According to the meeting’s attendees, Sr. Anne stated that the university was not ready to discuss any financial reimbursement. Some students have already retained legal counsel.

While the majority of attendees were upset and worried, some were optimistic. “I feel pretty confident in them that they will get [their accreditation back],” said Jocelyn Rutter, freshman.

The university expects to learn of the appeal decision in late summer or fall.