Char-Koosta News

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SKC Nursing program gets rave review

The candles held by the nursing graduates at SKC symbolize the “passing of the flame” from the well-known nurse Florence Nightingale. A practice the SKC nursing graduates present each year as the recite their pledge at ths 2012 ceremony. (Lailani Upham photo) The candles held by the nursing graduates at SKC symbolize the “passing of the flame” from the well-known nurse Florence Nightingale. A practice the SKC nursing graduates present each year as the recite their pledge at ths 2012 ceremony. (Lailani Upham photo)

By Lailani Upham

PABLO — Last October Salish Kootenai College Nursing program was paid a visit by the state nursing board and the national Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and was notified last month the program checked out great, according to SKC Nursing Department Director, Dr. Katherine Willock.

The two-year program was the only one in the last two years in the state to be reviewed and get a great rave, while other nursing programs across the state received warnings.

The process takes time says Willock and although SKC nursing received great praise there is still areas of improvement to be worked out she says.

One thing the program has established is going beyond the state standards and reaching the national standards through re-doing the program with credit readjustments.

The Department of Education said the Associate of Science Nursing program should be able to be completed on 98 credits (semester hours). SKC runs off quarter hours per year and originally had a 128 credits (quarter hours) system in place and now the curriculum hours are in line with the national standards of 98 credits on a quarter system, explained Willock.

Every eight years the ASN program must receive accreditation and every five years for the BSN program degree. However, Willock says they are working on getting both programs accredited at the same time beginning in 2016 when the BSN is up for review. It will mean the ASN will just need to be accelerated in the process for that year.

The ASN program has been accredited since 1992; and the BSN since 1998. In the years of both programs accreditation, SKC has graduated 234 students from the nursing programs, said Willock.

During the Fall 2013 accreditation review the board and ACEN identified a huge strength in the SKC nursing program and that is the visionary leadership of Dr. Willock.

The statement from the accreditation boards pointed out that “The visionary mission of the nursing administrator’s ability to stabilize, motivate, and support the faculty to work as a collaborate team,” was a great asset.

The SKC nursing program was founded on the idea of educating nurses to serve diverse populations in rural settings. The small class size and unique class settings are meant to prepare the graduates for the challenges they will face in these sorts of settings or locations. Embracing Native American culture is what the SKC nursing program believes prepares the students to be able to provide culturally competent care.

The mission of the program is to provide Native American nurses with the competencies required for professional practice and leadership in rural and tribal communities. The department also promotes collaborative partnerships and relationships with individuals and communities to enhance their health, well-being, and cultural identity.

Last month SKC Nursing hosted an Inter-professional Educational Simulation training on campus where three disciplinaries: pharmaceutical students from University of Montana; medical students from WWAMI (a collaborative medical school among universities in five states: Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho); and nursing students from SKC. The experience was for students to work together to get an idea what each role does in a simulated environment, Dr. Willock explained.

It was the first of it’s kind in Montana, and SKC Nursing hopes to keep the simulation training ongoing each Spring.

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