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Recent termination benefits UI nursing program

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | SEPTEMBER 21, 2011 7:20 AM

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When the University of Iowa petitions the state Board of Regents to terminate one of its graduate health-care programs, tempers tend to flare.

On Tuesday, the regents decided to allow the UI to officially terminate its master in nursing and health-care practice degree. Under normal circumstances, the termination of any health-care graduate degree at the university would echo gross incompetence on the part of the administration — but officially terminating the degree is necessary to the continued growth in one of the top nursing programs in the nation.

The degree began at UI in January 2003 and was rigorously focused on providing training and real clinical experience to allow its recipients to quickly enter a professional nursing career.
James Nicpon, the strategic communications manager for the UI College of Nursing, the program was suspended in 2005, and the last students to earn degrees graduated in 2008.

"There has not been an [program] student in the building for more than three years," he said.

This topic came up recently because of what Nicpon described as a "clerical error." There was an apparent slight oversight by the college to fill out the necessary paper work to no longer have the degree listed as a part of the nursing school. The elimination of this degree will yield more focus toward better preparing nursing students for the modern job market.

The official termination of this program is nothing to worry about. Nicpon pointed out that the program was replaced by a new program, called a Master of Science in Nursing with a focus on clinical leadership. This program came about in reaction to a report given out by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which emphasized the need for more leadership training in graduate studies in order for graduates to be better prepared for the modern health-care climate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, from 2008, there will be a 20 percent growth in registered nurses in the United States by 2018. This is much faster growth rate than the projected population growth of the country, projected at 7 percent by 2020.

Given these statistics, one may speculate that there will be a surplus of registered nurses in the next decade. This is not the case: According to a report by Nurses for a Healthier Tomorrow, the will be a 20 percent shortage of registered nurses by 2020.

Even today, the need for more efficient, better-trained nurses has never been so necessary in the workplace. This will be even more crucial moving forward. The UI seems to recognize these facts.

The nursing school's new master of science degree emphasizes hands-on experience through the UI Hospitals and Clinics, which yields faster results and better decision making in the workplace. These are more than important in the high-stress, high-risk profession of nursing. This program equips students with exactly what is necessary to flourish.

"[It] has been very successful and is still widely active today," Nicpon said.

This may be precisely what the UI needs to stay at the top when it comes to education in health sciences. As stated in the most current rankings by U.S. News & World Report, the UI's nursing school boasts two second-ranked programs of their kind in the nation, with a total of five ranked in the top 15.

Such current and innovative methods of teaching students increases the likelihood that graduates will find higher paying jobs in a lackluster economy.

As the nation's global rank in math and sciences is falling behind other countries, these innovations are necessary. The UI should be applauded for its success in the field of nursing. Despite the budget cuts and tight economy, the school has maintained its status as the 11th best nursing college in the nation. The UI trails only behind such notable schools as Yale and Duke and is only a few points away from Johns Hopkins.

The termination of the old degree is nothing to be afraid of; rather, it is something to be proud of and something that will likely increase UI's ability to focus on being even more competitive in the nursing field.

So, don't flare your tempers: The UI knows what it's doing.


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