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Cumberland University nursing school facing probation
Jan 09, 2006 12:00 am
January 5, 2005
Cumberland University's Rudy School of Nursing is likely to be put on probation by the Tennessee Board of Nursing next month because of a decline in the number of CU nursing students who pass the state's nursing exam.
Tennessee Department of Health Communications Director Andrea Turner and Cumberland Dean of Nursing Dr. Leanne Busby explained the pass rate for Cumberland nursing students has dipped below 85 percent in each of the past two years.
"Their pass rate has been below 85 percent … (For) any school who experiences the difficulty that Cumberland has experienced, board policy is to place them on a conditional approval, which is a way to say probation," Turner said.
Turner, who noted the state board of nursing reviews pass rates for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) as an indicator of a school's performance, added the recent decline in NCLEX scores at CU are a sign that "something might be not quite right."
Busby said the drop in scores could be attributed to explosive growth in the program as well as faculty changes which took place prior to her return to Cumberland in summer 2004 to lead the nursing program.
Between 2003 and 2004, enrollment in the Rudy School of Nursing leapt from 80 students to more than 200, she noted.
"We lost quite a few faculty right before I came back, and always when you get new faculty, you see a little bit of a dip in your state board scores," Busby said. "When you grow, you see the same thing. It's very classic."
Busby left the nursing program in fall 2003 and served as director of the Tennessee Professional Assistance Program until her return to One Cumberland Square in June 2004. Shortly thereafter, the Rudy School of Nursing moved its teaching and lab space to the McFarland Hospital campus after forming an alliance with University Medical Center.
Busby noted the school's nursing program will be granted two years to improve test scores. However, she added she has developed an ambitious "remediation" plan aimed at improving pass rates within half that time.
Students in the Rudy School of Nursing have already begun taking standardized tests which closely resemble the NCLEX, she continued.
"Based on these standardized tests we're giving, our students are looking good," Busby said. "They're doing well, for the most part, on the standardized test."
CU's nursing school saw the lowest pass rate in its 11-year history last year, she added. However, the average pass rate throughout the program's lifetime remains somewhere between 89 and 90 percent.
Turner said the state board of nursing recently completed a thorough "survey visit" of CU's program in December. During the visit, she said state officials met with Busby, faculty members and a sampling of nursing students.
"Based on that survey visit, at this point we have no reason to believe that they won't address the issues that they're experiencing," Turner said. "… Our director of the board of nursing feels strongly that there's no indication at this time that they won't turn things around."
On Feb. 15, representatives from the school's nursing program will appear before the Tennessee Board of Nursing. Busby said she will then outline Cumberland's entire plan for remediation.
Turner said CU is one of "a handful of schools" slated to appear before the board during next month's meeting as a result of declining pass rates.
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at email@example.com.