University moves on

South Carolina State University has developed a plan for phasing out its pre-licensure program for nursing, which has been troubled by low test scores.

South Carolina State University has developed plans to phase out part of its nursing program, but the state wants it closed sooner.

The university has presented a plan for the voluntary closure of its pre-licensure program to the state Board of Nursing, university spokeswoman Erica Taylor said. Other nursing programs will remain in place.

Also, “Everyone in the program now will be allowed to continue through the program. This is only for new students,” Taylor said. Students who enter this year would also be allowed to finish, she said.

The university presented its plan to the South Carolina Board of Nursing on July 26 to voluntarily end its Generic Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, a pre-licensure track for students who plan to become registered nurses.

Taylor said the university has yet to receive a written directive from the Board of Nursing. Any plan still must be approved by the university, including its board of trustees.

“The plan is being developed,” she said.

S.C. State’s plan, which would phase the program out by 2016, would admit 63 freshmen this fall and would also include 19 sophomores, 51 juniors and 66 seniors. It would provide courses for the students to finish their degrees or would permit them to transfer into other degree programs.

However, the Board of Nursing approved modifications to the plan that would end the program by December 2014.

The Nursing Board also recommended that the university make efforts to assist in transferring students into other approved nursing programs, maintain a list of names of all students who transferred to approved nursing programs and maintain “custody and control” of existing records.

The university plan cited students’ pass rates on the NCLEX-RN scores as the reason for ending the program.

Though first-time pass rates for 2006, 2007 and 2009 were 80 percent or above, they were still well below state and national levels, which were consistently above 85 percent.

In 2011, only seven of 34 S.C. State students, or 20.59 percent, passed the test. The pass rate, which was down from 66 percent in 2010 and 88 percent in 2009, was a concern for the university, Dr. Rita Teal said earlier this year. She was then interim vice president for academic affairs.

Teal said that the university was dealing with the issue by providing tutoring for struggling students. Additionally, teachers were focusing on areas where students have previously performed poorly in the past, she said.

However, the first-time pass rate for 2012 was 28.57 compared to 92.09 percent nationally and 94.01 percent in the state.

Teal also said that the Nursing Board had other concerns about the university’s nursing program, including the program’s organizational structure, the faculty roster and the number of students enrolled in each nursing course.

Trustee Patricia Lott, who heads up the BOT Academic Committee, said that the program needed better financing.

Contact the writer: dlinder-altman@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5529.

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