State Board bans HCC from accepting new nursing students

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HOUSTON, TX-- There's a nursing shortage in America. And yet, oddly enough, the Texas Board of Nursing has basically shut down one nursing school in the Texas Medical Center.

They banned HCC's Coleman College for Health Sciences from admitting any new students to their Associate Degree nursing program until 2017.

Why? Well, for the last three years, not enough students have been able to pass their board exams.

Dr. Phillip Nicotera, president of HCC's Coleman College, says it all goes back to 2011, "The former administration was looking at increasing enrollment. So in order to do so, they decreased the admissions standards to the program."

They also started offering accelerated courses (8 weeks instead of 16). That meant slower students were asked to learn even faster.

At the same time, the national tests got harder. "We saw almost a 9% decrease nationally in the scores during that time," says Nicotera.

It was a perfect storm for failure. Only 66% of the HCC nursing students passed in 2013. 80% is the benchmark.

Since then, scores have gone up, but just not enough. Looking for a cure, the school has reversed course, increasing GPA requirements and getting rid of the accelerated classes. They have also been offering extra testing to students to assess their shortfalls and more tutoring by the faculty.

FYI: this regulators' suspension has no effect on current students, assures Nicotera. "They will graduate from an accredited program, and they will be able to sit for the NCLEX exam (National Council Licensure Examination)."

So far this year, 54 out of 57 students passed that exam. That's 95%, which gives Nicotera hope for the future of his nursing program. "We've made the corrections. We've made adjustments. We've made improvements," he says, "so I think we're back on track."

Let's hope so with this nursing shortage, or we could all end up in a world of hurt.

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