Thursday, September 15, 2016

LETU Nursing: Healing East Texas

East Texas is not a healthy place. Residents of the 35 counties of Northeast Texas are more likely to die from stroke, heart disease and cancer than other Texans, according to a recent study. In fact, if Northeast Texas was its own state, the research concluded, we would rank worst in the U.S. for stroke deaths and 49th in fatal heart disease.

The report reminded me of the potential of our new LETU School of Nursing. The students we educate here can make a real difference to our region.

Our School of Nursing Dean Kimberly Quiett and her nursing faculty, Jennifer Bray and Shirley Ballard, recently hosted a successful visit by a three-member Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation team that was here last Wednesday through Friday.

CCNE is the autonomous accreditation arm of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The CCNE is officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency that contributes to the improvement of public health by ensuring the quality and integrity of undergraduate, graduate and residency nursing programs.

The CCNE accreditation team was here to verify information in our self-study that was submitted to them back in July. Their primary purpose is quality assurance and they came to confirm that what we say is evidenced in our work.

For example, they reviewed student assignments, our policies and procedures, and the university handbook and the nursing school's handbook. They looked to see what kind of support the school received from the university administration, both physically and fiscally. They reviewed budget reports, toured our physical layout, our lab facilities to make sure that we deliver on what we promised in our self-study.

The CCNE team met with people across the university to ensure we provide good customer service to our students, including our library services, tutoring and student life support. They were also interested that we participate in quality assurance and institutional effectiveness programs.

To meet national accreditation, we have to show connection between our course objectives and our program outcomes and our school goals and our university goals.

So, why is this CCNE accreditation important? Students can qualify for outside scholarships that can only be used at nationally accredited schools. Students interested in going into the military need to graduate from a nationally accredited school. And graduate nursing schools generally prefer applicants from nationally accredited schools, which makes our students more competitive.

Although I'm sure our program was well regarded, the final results of the team's assessment and the CCNE's decision will not be revealed until around April.

I expect LETU nursing to become the premier Christian nursing program in this region, and CCNE accreditation will help us reach that distinction.

Dean Quiett and her faculty have built a curriculum that integrates Christian virtues into the practice of nursing. We've just begun to market our new program and recruit the best students to LETU. Let's pray God uses our work to heal East Texas.