The university will create an on campus nursing program set to open in fall 2013. The new program will end the university’s affiliation with the Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing.
Dr. Jeanine Varner, provost, said the university has been satisfied with its more than 30-year relationship with nursing partnership with Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University, but felt the need to start an on-campus program.
“For more than 30 years we’ve been a part of a consortium with the purpose of delivering nursing education,” Varner said. “It’s been very good for the most part; it has served us well.”
Dr. Nina Ouimette, dean of Shelton Nursing School was contacted and declined to comment.
Varner said the decision to leave Shelton Nursing School was not because of problems with the nursing school, but in response to an expressed desire for an on-campus program.
“We’ve heard from prospective students and their families that they wanted a program that’s here on campus like all of our other programs,” Varner said. “Nursing coursework occurs at the junior and senior level, and so by the time they reached that level they were a part of a program that didn’t seem to be ACU’s.”
Varner said the new program will not affect current ACU students, but will only affect freshmen who enroll in fall 2011 and begin their nursing coursework in fall 2013.
The university plans to offer a bachelor of science degree in nursing, but Varner said the university is also exploring the idea of offering a doctor of nursing practice in the future, allowing students to pursue careers as nurse practitioners. The only doctorate-level degree offered at ACU is a doctorate of ministry.
“We are interested in offering a DNP because it is a very important degree,” Varner said. “Nurse practitioners can do many things that bachelor’s-level nurses cannot do. They work side by side with the physician.”
Varner said 40 percent of students at Shelton Nursing School are from ACU. She said the university has given the school two-yearsÂ notice and will help the school in its time of transition.
Dr. Paul Fabrizio, vice president for academic affairs at McMurry University, said ACU’s decision to leave The Shelton School of Nursing will afford the school an opportunity to review itself and make positive changes.
“I think it’s going to have a positive effect, not because ACU is leaving, but in terms of the opportunities it provides. We have to really think what the school is about,” Fabrizio said. “How often do you get a chance to recreate yourself?”
Fabrizio said the school will continue in its purpose to educate students in the field of nursing for the next two years while ACU is still a part of the school and after ACU leaves.
“I think ACU has studied this very seriously and made a decision as to what is best for ACU. We wish them the best,” Fabrizio said. “Our first move is to continue teaching and engage in a thorough self-study and move forward.”