Showdown in the show-me state, over college nursing program

By Amanda Hanson - bio | email feedback

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Three Rivers Community College wants to pull the plug on a partnership between ASU and Southeast Missouri University.

TRCC wants the partnership to end between the two universities, saying it's a violation of the Missouri Board of Higher Education public policy.

"I understand that Three Rivers is concerned," says College of Nursing and Health Professions Dean Susan Hanrahan.

Concerned about SEMO offering a Nursing Associate Degree Program at the SEMO-Kennett Center through ASU. "My understanding is, SEMO in the past has contracted with another provider within the state of Missouri to offer that degree program in Kennett, Missouri so a precedent has been set for that to happen," says Hanrahan.

Hanrahan says Kennett is in their geographical service area, and it's not unusual for the university to send out their Associate Degree Program to different parts of the community.

But Three Rivers Community College President Dr. Devin Stephenson says seeking an out-of-state partnership with ASU goes against the Missouri Department of Higher Education Public Policy. "The process initiated by Southeast wastes resources through duplication of effort and sends Missouri tax dollars outside the state," says Stephenson.

"There could be policies in Missouri that preclude someone from doing this. Our State Board of High Education allows other vendors from outside the state to come in a provide degree programs," says Hanrahan.

Three Rivers is boasting higher overall nursing graduating rate, leaving their school to question SEMO's possible partnership with ASU.

"Important to note is that Three Rivers' nursing graduates have an overall pass rate of 100% on the NCLEX-RN (the national test required of all nursing graduates), while Arkansas State's pass rate is 77%," says Stephenson.

"We have associates and bachelor degrees who take the NCLEX exam so we're talking about a population of a couple hundred probably a year, verses 20 or so that they can selectively pick into their program for graduation," says Hanrahan.

The following is a response from News Bureau Director Ann K. Hayes with Southeast Missouri State University regarding the statements by TRCC.


Associate of Applied Science in Nursing Degree in Kennett, Missouri

Southeast Missouri State University's efforts to partner with Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro are in response to long-standing requests from the citizens of Kennett to offer an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Nursing degree at the Southeast Missouri State University – Kennett Regional Campus.  Southeast and various interest groups in Kennett have requested partnering with Three Rivers Community College (TRCC) in Poplar Bluff in this endeavor at least three times over the past 10 years and TRCC has always declined those requests.

As a result of TRCC's refusals, the University partnered with Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences to bring the AAS in Nursing program to Kennett. In fact, Southeast Missouri State received such strong support from the Missouri Foundation for Health and Kennett's Twin Rivers Regional Medical Center that they pledged funds and materials in 2006 to build a state-of-the-art science lab to be used for the AAS in Nursing program. At no time did TRCC object to this collaborative initiative.

Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE) Public Policy 7.1 indicates that the state's postsecondary education system should be responsive to the needs of Missouri citizens. Southeast has not violated this policy as alleged by TRCC, but has instead embraced this policy and found alternative ways to provide the AAS in Nursing degree program in the Kennett area since TRCC repeatedly declined to offer the program. Part of our mission has been and will continue to be providing access to needed academic programs in our service region.  We all know  there are unmet needs in healthcare in the Kennett area and unfortunately, many Missouri students are now traveling out of state for healthcare education and not returning to Missouri to practice. The director of our Kennett Regional Campus estimates that at least 75 percent of the prospective AAS in Nursing degree students will be Missouri citizens.

The Missouri Department of Higher Education has recently posted 12 requests to deliver degrees in Missouri from out-of-state Universities and is currently accepting comments on those requests. It is our understanding that ASU plans to follow these current MDHE procedures in its request to deliver AAS programs in Missouri after they receive program approval from the Missouri Board of Nursing.

President Ken Dobbins stated, "In recent correspondence and in TRCC statements and news releases, there is no indication that TRCC now desires to deliver the AAS in Nursing degree at our Kennett Regional campus. However, if TRCC has changed its past position, Southeast will be happy to discuss such options with the community college. Consequently, I hope to receive a telephone call from President Stephenson in the near future so he can clarify TRCC's thoughts on this issue."

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