Salem nursing program regains provisional approval

SALEM, W.Va. (AP) — Salem International University has regained a state board’s provisional approval of its associate’s degree in nursing program.

The West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses had withdrawn provisional approval of the program in June. The board reversed that decision last month.

The Exponent Telegram (http://bit.ly/17iX5nN ) reports that Salem and the board attributed the withdrawal of provisional approval to a misunderstanding.

Salem considers students admitted to the program when they enroll at the school as nursing students, even if they haven’t taken nursing courses. The board considers students who have begun taking courses as nursing students.

“From day one, the university’s position has always been when a student matriculated into the school, they were a nursing student,” Salem President John Luotto said.

The board had told the school in a Feb. 25 letter that the nursing program had deficiencies, including the failure to maintain at least an 80 percent passing rate by first-time candidates taking the licensure examination. Salem was directed to stop admissions into the program until it met state requirements. But the university continued to allow students to sign up for nursing courses.

Laura Rhodes, the board’s executive director, said the board also was concerned about turnover in the program director’s position. There have been three permanent directors and one interim director since the program began in 2010.

“I’ve been with the board for 21 years,” Rhodes said. “It’s not the average to have this many in such a short period of time.”

“The board’s rules require that the nursing program have an administrator who administers the program,” Rhodes said. “That means that person makes decisions for and about the program. A previous director said that is not always the case.”

Chancellor J. William Brooks said Salem is working with the board and working on curriculum improvements to address the exam passing rates. It also has enlisted outside assistance from professional test prep groups.

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Information from: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.cpubco.com

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