MCC Nursing Program Earns National Accreditation
The Muskegon Community College Nursing Program has been granted full continuing accreditation through 2019 by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, Inc. (NLNAC)
"The NLNAC is the only national accrediting body for Associate Degree Nursing programs,” said Pam Brown, director of MCC’s Nursing Program. “Muskegon Community College Nursing Program is among only 13 of the 28 nationally accredited Associate Degree Nursing Programs in Michigan.”
Approved by the State of Michigan for decades, the MCC program successfully sought national accreditation for the first time in 2007. Now the college program has received the highest praise from the NLNAC, which granted it the maximum eight years of full continuing accreditation without conditions.
Brown said the MCC nursing faculty, despite the added work involved, actively pursued national accreditation because maintaining the profession’s highest standards benefits the 190 students in the program. The accolade is a benefit to students for scholarships, military stipends and admission to universities offering baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing.
“You can’t be content with status quo in health care, and you can’t be content with status quo in nursing education,” said Brown. “We need to be at the top of our game in order to help the students be at the top of their game. Our graduates are leaders in nursing in this community."
The NLNAC, whose site review team visited the MCC campus last fall, supports the interests of nursing education, nursing practice, and the public by the functions of accreditation. The voluntary, self-regulatory process allows non-governmental associations to recognize educational institutions or programs that have been found to meet or exceed standards and criteria for educational quality.
“Only certain programs have gone the extra mile to get national accreditation on their own,” said Brown. “Accreditation demonstrates that there is a quality curriculum and an ongoing evaluation process for the program. Our faculty members are continually evaluating student learning outcomes, using feedback from graduates, advisory committees and community agencies to achieve an excellent, quality nursing education program.”
MCC’s well-prepared nursing graduates annually excel on the state-mandated National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exams for registered nurses and for the vocational practical nurses. MCC nursing graduates have an outstanding first-time pass rate of 95.6 percent on the NCLEX-RN and 100 percent on the NCLEX-PN, noted Brown. NCLEX examinations are designed to test the knowledge, skills and abilities essential to the safe and effective practice of nursing.
Brown noted that 50 percent of the students in Michigan who apply for acceptance into a nursing program will be denied because of limited clinical space. They must reapply each year until accepted. Not so at MCC.
“We’re competency based but we don’t require our students to compete for admission,” explained Brown. “We’re a community college-based program and believe that every student should have a chance. Our students must meet reading and writing competencies and have a 2.0 GPA to be admitted. They may have to wait up to three years for a seat in the program, but if they meet the admission competencies they will be admitted to the Nursing Program as soon as a seat is available.
“Of those who do start in our program, 85 percent of them will complete it. That’s amazing. Students are committed to our nursing program and our faculty are very committed to the students and their success.”
The two-year Registered Nursing program requires 850 hours of clinical experience in addition to simulations in lab. MCC students are offered clinical experiences at Mercy Health Partners, Public Health-Muskegon County, Muskegon County Community Mental Health, Harbor Hospice, Port City Pediatrics, Brookhaven Medical Care Facility, and many other agencies in neighboring counties, including North Ottawa Community Health System.
“We’re an AD program preparing students to become RNs,” she said. “Students also have the option of exiting to take the LPN licensing examination and work as LPNs although fewer and fewer students, probably less than 10 percent, are choosing that option. If they do exit, it’s usually for a short period of time and then they return to pursue the Associate Degree to qualify for RN licensure. ”
The MCC nursing program traces its roots to 1962 when an educational unit in practical nursing was established within the Vocational-Technical Department. The Practical Nursing Program received Michigan Board of Nursing approval in 1965 and in 1978 became part of MCC’s Charles H. Hackley Center for Allied Health Education.
In 1979, representatives from MCC, the Michigan Board of Nursing, and the Michigan Department of Education met to determine the feasibility of developing a career ladder Associate Degree Nursing program at Muskegon Community College. The same year, the Hackley Hospital Board of Trustees and the MCC Board of Trustees signed an agreement calling for the establishment of a career ladder nursing program at the College to supplant the Hackley Hospital School of Nursing Diploma Program and the MCC Practical Nursing Program.
In Fall 1981, the MCC Nursing Program admitted its first class of 40 students. The following year, the first class of PNs graduated from the new curriculum. In 1983, the first class of ADNs graduated from MCC. Since 1985, the Charles H. Hackley School of Allied Health Nursing Program at MCC has remained fully approved by the Michigan Board of Nursing and a primary supplier of nurses for Muskegon and West Michigan.