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Mayville State University graduate nursing program receives accreditation

Mayville State University's master's in nursing program, started in April 2020, gained Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation on Nov. 12.

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A sign at Mayville State University in Mayville, N.D. (Grand Forks Herald)

MAYVILLE – Lori Martinson of Rolette, North Dakota, decided to go back to school after nearly 30 years in the nursing industry, but she only plans on changing careers, not fields.

Martinson will be the first graduate of Mayville State University’s Master of Science in Nursing program when she graduates in December, and she plans to use her degree to teach the next generation of nurses.

“I think I have a lot to offer with my background and almost 30 years of nursing experience,” Martinson said. “If I can teach new nurses and help them to be the best nurses they can be, I think that would be great.”

The MSN program, started in April 2020, gained Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation on Nov. 12. The CCNE is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency, and it helps ensure that baccalaureate, graduate and residency nursing programs teach the skills necessary to be a nurse to the standards required by state nursing boards.

The maximum number of years of accreditation a program can be awarded by CCNE initially is five years, which Mayville State’s program was awarded in full.

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Mayville State’s MSN program has two tracks: nurse educator and nursing leadership and management. The nurse educator track prepares students to teach in an academic or practice setting, while the nursing leadership and management track focuses on advanced nursing practice and team management skills. Students in the degree are required to have a registered nursing license and baccalaureate nursing degree.

The program’s accreditation comes at a time when many hospitals are struggling to keep up with staffing demands. Though the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated workforce shortages in health care, Collette Christoffers, interim division of nursing chair and associate professor at Mayville State, says the problem predates the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are a lot of retirees in the nursing profession, and the workforce that’s coming behind them is not as populous, so there are more retirees than there are people entering the workforce in the nursing profession,” said Christoffers.

An aging workforce coupled with stressful COVID-19 working conditions has led to higher than ever turnover rates in the field.

“Right now there has been a lot of increased stress for nurses at the bedside and they’re kind of just reconsidering some of those options that they have for employment,” she said.

Christoffers says programs like Mayville’s MSN program could help retain and increase nurses in the field. She says skills taught in the programs, like leadership skills, managerial skills, resilience and conflict management, give nurses the power to improve the workplace for themselves and their colleagues.

“Nurses are on the front lines and they see what needs to improve in the health care environment, and we can empower nurses through education to make that change or be that change that we need to see in health care,” Christoffers said.

According to Christoffers, the program is designed to meet rural nurses where they are. All MSN classes are entirely online, and students complete a practicum experience somewhere local to them. Students in the program have a mix of experience levels, from recent BSN program graduates to experienced nurses like Martinson.

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While Martinson hopes to use her degree to teach in a college setting, she acknowledges the importance of nurse educators in practice settings as well. In rural areas, it can be challenging for nurses to continue their educations, but continued learning is an important part of maintaining a high level of care in hospitals.

“There is such a need for educators out there and even in a hospital setting, having educators to help with nurses and competencies, and give them the tools they need to be able to give good patient care is very important,” Martinson said.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
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