Nursing Science

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Department of Nursing Science History

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

From planning to first graduating class in 2004, here's a brief history of St. Cloud State University's nursing program.

Planning efforts for a nursing program at St. Cloud State University began informally in 1997. SCSU science faculty developed a document (10/97) addressing the possibilities of new health care programs including medical technology, physician assistant, physical therapist, occupational therapist, nursing, nurse practitioner and biopsychology. Based on student surveys and input from regional health care personnel, nursing held the strongest student interest and met the greatest community and regional need.

Further needs assessment strategies were undertaken during 1998 and 1999. Faculty and administrators met individually with regional officials to verify the need for registered nurses. A meeting of over twenty-five faculty, administrators and regional nursing directors was held (11/16/98) to discuss options for nursing education at SCSU. Dr. Barbara Johnson, Assistant Director, Minnesota Board of Nursing, gave a presentation on state requirements for starting a program (11/30/98).

During 1999, Sharon Ridgeway, Ph.D., RN, University of Minnesota, served as a consultant for the College of Science and Engineering. Her report detailed the resources and requirements for various nursing science education programs and recommended how SCSU should approach the goal of starting such programs.

A search for the program’s director began in late 1999. Candidates were interviewed and Dr. Susan Johnson Warner was hired in June 2000. She immediately began curriculum development, assisted by a virtual Nursing Curriculum Committee and by faculty in biology. To ensure that the curriculum would meet accreditation standards, have futuristic nursing concepts and meet community need, Dr. Warner enlisted the aid of a cadre of local, regional and national nursing scholars and established a virtual curriculum steering committee. Members of this group represented a variety of areas of expertise.

Dr. Roxanne Struthers, University of Minnesota, provided expertise in curriculum development and Native American health. Dr. Scott Ziehm, Faculty, University of California, San Francisco, offered consultation on the accelerated baccalaureate program. Nurse clinicians from St. Cloud Hospital and selected nursing faculty from North Hennepin Community College provided additional reviews of curriculum. To address rural health issues, nursing directors and administrators from regional hospitals such as those in Alexandria, Paynesville and Brainerd provided feedback.

The nursing initiative was included in the College of Science and Engineering Strategic Plan approved by the Vice President for Academic Affairs, (COSE Science and Engineering Council minutes 11/15/00). Curriculum approval progressed through the sponsoring department (Biological Sciences) and the college and university curriculum committees. The curriculum and an application packet for program approval were submitted to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system office (5/01). On May 31, 2001 the MnSCU Board of Trustees approved the program for operation beginning in August 2001.

The generic baccalaureate program admitted the charter class of students January 2002. Dr. Susan Johnson Warner was elected by the department the first Departmental Chair, fall of 2002. The St. Cloud State University Department of Nursing Science was fully accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education in April 2004, and the charter class of nursing students had the honor of graduating from a program that meets the highest national standards on May 9, 2004.

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