Maranatha’s Nursing Department: One of a Kind

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Maranatha’s Nursing Department is now one of a kind.

The College received notification Oct. 11 that it has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), the nation’s primary accreditation agency for nursing colleges and schools. Maranatha now has the distinction of being the only fundamental Christian college with overall institutional regional accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission that has a CCNE-accredited nursing program.

“My primary goal in pursuing this was for the students’ sake,” Nursing Department Chair Kelly Crum said. “Many of our students have had to fight their way through four years financially. Now they are eligible for almost anything in terms of grants and scholarships, and the sky’s the limit as far as clinical placements. The doors of opportunity have just been flung wide open.”

Lauren Schulz, a junior Nursing major from Lake Mills, WI, is among those who will benefit.

“We are truly blessed to have a department that continually strives to enhance Maranatha’s nursing program,” Schulz said. “This opens the doors for so many opportunities. It’s something the nursing program has wanted to obtain for a very long time. We are thanking the Lord.”

The decision helps support Maranatha’s mission, “To develop leaders for ministry in the local church and the world ‘To the Praise of His Glory,’ ”and confirms the program’s academic rigor and overall quality.

What are some significant benefits for Maranatha nursing students?

  • Millions of dollars in potential grants and scholarships through Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and private foundations
  • Grant funding for many nursing-related endeavors, including classroom and lab building construction
  • Tremendous financial incentives for ROTC cadets who are also Nursing majors
  • More options for clinical placement
  • Job opportunities at major hospitals for graduates
  • Easier acceptance into graduate school programs
  • Increased visibility and participation for Maranatha in cooperative ventures with other collegiate nursing programs in Wisconsin and nationwide

“In terms of the money available to our students, we just went from a box lunch to a smorgasbord,” Crum said.

HRSA financial aid programs include scholarships, loans, and loan repayment programs that can pay up to 85 percent of a student’s loan balance in exchange for a service commitment. Some scholarships even include a monthly stipend.

Crum said some major hospitals, including the Mayo Clinic, require that nurses be graduates of CCNE-accredited institutions. Some graduate school programs also require institutional CCNE accreditation as part of their admission requirements.

Derrek Schultheiss, Senior Military Science Instructor for Maranatha’s ROTC chapter, said his Nursing major Cadets will now be able to choose the Army Nurse Corps for their service branch upon graduation. Those students can also compete for nursing scholarships that help cover fees, uniforms, and supplies in addition to academic expenses.

“This is great news for our cadets,” Schultheiss said.

Maranatha first applied for CCNE accreditation in August 2009. While the process was being completed, the Wisconsin Board of Nursing approved the program in December 2011. A CCNE panel visited campus in March 2012 and issued a preliminary report in May.

The first-time pass rate for Maranatha nursing graduates taking the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Exams) has risen from 66 to 94 percent over those three years, thanks in large part to a curriculum overhaul that was part of the accreditation process. All of those graduates eventually passed the exam and are now licensed nurses.

“The nursing faculty really bonded during this process, and the students withstood a lot of change in their curriculum,” Crum said. “A lot of people contributed a lot of time and effort.”

Taylor Fish, a sophomore Nursing major from Madison, IN, is among those who will benefit from that time and effort on her behalf.

“This was just super-exciting news,” Fish said. “I have friends who work all weekend to help pay their bills, and it’s tough for them to find time to study. There will be a lot more opportunities now for them to find the money they need.”

Crum said she expects a significant jump in enrollment next fall from the approximately 100 students who currently say they intend to pursue Nursing majors. She also said prospective faculty members have been “beating down my door” since the news of the potential accreditation began to circulate in nursing circles.

“Our work has just begun,” Crum said.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Maranatha is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 530, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 887-6791. Maranatha is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association (Website: Phone: 312-263-0456).