Nursing students sick with worry

Owens Board of Trustees
meeting to discuss nursing accreditation problems with faculty and student body. 11/19/09 (Photos: Aaron

The registered nursing program at Owens Community College might have lost its voluntary accreditation
with a national organization, but students and faculty want local residents to know it is still
graduating highly-qualified professionals.
To update nursing students on what the college is doing and answer their questions, Owens’ Board of
Trustees held an open forum Wednesday in the meeting room of the Fire Science and Law Enforcement
building. About 175 people attended it, with 16 of them personally asking questions about the situation.

The last student to address the trustees was Matt Mueller of Toledo, a fourth-year nursing student. He
told trustees and key officials he recently walked into a patient’s room and identified himself. The
patient responded, "’If you are from Owens Community College, I don’t want you to take care of
"I don’t know if you fully understand the effect," he said. "This has really affected the
Trustees Chairman John Moore said he can’t stop media coverage and noted instead, "The news media
should have made a positive statement. You are the best out there."
After the forum, Mueller, who graduates next month, said the patient accepted him as her nurse when she
was informed his supervisor would be making decisions about her care.
Brenda Ball of Springfield Township is also set to graduate as a registered nurse. "We’re in the
public eye right now," she said afterwards. "You’re embarrassed to show your uniform because
of public perception." She’s found even in restaurants people will come up and ask her "what
is going on" at the college.
While key officials assured the audience steps are being taken to regain accreditation with the National
League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), Mueller and Ball wanted to know what the college is
doing to regain the public’s trust.
While waiting to talk to Vice Provost Dr. Renay Scott afterwards, third semester nursing students from
Toledo, Ashley Leonard and Andrea Bening, were firm that the key to regaining the public’s confidence is
the nursing students themselves, being up front that they are proud to be Owens students.

"Owens is a wonderful school," stated Leonard. "It really makes a difference how the
students react. The public doesn’t see us down. The students still believe in the school. … I’m still
proud of my school. I know I’ll graduate and be a wonderful nurse."
From the administration’s standpoint on regaining public trust, Scott said better communication with the
community is one of the most important things, as well as community partners "sharing the quality
of graduates." She stated that with time the college’s actions will prove it continues to graduate
quality nurses who are caring and compassionate.
During the forum Scott had announced, "93.4 percent of you last quarter passed the NCLEX-RN exam.
That speaks of quality."
Christine Flickinger, an Owens nursing graduate from the 1970s and now on staff in its surgical program,
said she worked in several states and was never asked if she graduated from an NLNAC-accredited program,
only if she had a license to practice in that state.
During the forum the audience was informed the RN program has applied for candidacy with NLNAC, beginning
the accreditation process "from scratch." Steps include making a candidacy presentation which
it will do in spring, the writing of a self-study during the 2010-11 academic year, followed by a site
visit from NLNAC officials.
In addition: The establishment of a new School of Nursing is to help students regain the trust of the
students; funds have been allocated to recruit more nursing instructors with master’s degrees; all local
hospitals continue interest in Owens’ graduates; the college will supply graduating nursing students
with a letter for their portfolio explaining the issue; and a number of area colleges are continuing to
accept the students as they have in the past.

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