PDCCC nursing program in trouble?

Published 8:52 am Wednesday, April 27, 2011

FRANKLIN—Paul D. Camp Community College’s nursing program has been placed on “conditional approval” after fewer than 80 percent of its students passed state boards in 2009 and 2010.

Should fewer than 80 percent of PDCCC’s 38 second-year nursing students pass the test this year, it’s not known what will happen to the program under new regulations passed three years ago.

“The board may withdraw approval and would consider a plan of correction,” said Tomeka Dowling, nursing education consultant with the Virginia Board of Nursing. “This has never occurred, so we don’t know what the board will do.”

PDCCC President Paul W. Conco said a number of changes are under way, including stricter admission criteria, tightening the pass-rate for courses, and administering practice and diagnostic tests to students.

In 2009, 77 percent of PDCCC nursing students, or 24 out of 31, passed the exam, and a year later, 73 percent, or 25 out of 34, passed, said Paula Saxby, deputy executive director for the Virginia Board of Nursing.

Dowling said when a program is in violation, the board gives that program a certain amount of time to correct issues. PDCCC has submitted a plan, which includes adding more faculty, she said.

Conco said the nursing program at PDCCC is five years old.

“We’re a relatively new program and a relatively small program,” he said.

The results from 2009 and 2010 were based on how students did on the test the first time.

“If you took the test twice and passed the second time, you’re not included,” he said.

In the first and second year, 70-some percent of PDCCC’s nursing students passed and in the third year, more than 80 percent. The fourth and fifth year, it was back to 70-some percent.

“We have a plan and are on the way to identifying strengths and weaknesses,” Conco said.

He noted, too, that the typical nursing student has changed.

“In the old days, nursing students really didn’t work,” Conco said. “They were full-time students and very focused. Today, the world that it is, they have to balance family and work and a lot of other issues. They struggle to be sure everything is in balance.”

Virginia has 80 similar programs affected by the regulations passed in April 2008, Saxby said.

“We actually have several schools coming before the board,” she said.