FSU Receives Over $2 Million for Nursing Programs

Recently, FSU has received over two million dollars’ worth of grant money towards different nursing programs. Some of these different programs include a collaborative model with Allegany College of Maryland, a nurse practitioner master’s program, and an Associate to Bachelor’s option for students in Maryland.

Both Assistant Professors Dr. Kelly Rock and Dr. Kara Platt in the Nursing Department at FSU had a lot to say about the opportunities the programs offer and how the grant money will give students much more flexibility and options.

“The nursing program at Frostburg offers three different paths,” said Dr. Rock. “We have what is known as an R.N. to B.S.N. program. That is for people who are already registered nurses who need to complete additional coursework to obtain their bachelor’s degree. Then we have an M.S.N., or Masters of Science in Nursing, program that started last fall of 2014 that actually has two different options which are a Master’s of Science in Nursing Education or Administration.”

When both women were asked how the grant money has helped the nursing program at Frostburg, the increase in flexibility for students was a common advantage.

“The grant that I’m overseeing is a collaborative with Allegany College of Maryland,” said Dr. Platt. “It is to help our students that are here on our campus from out of the county that want to be nurses, but they don’t necessarily want to transfer to University of Maryland and would like to stay on our campus for four years. So it’s a collaboration to help those students stay here locally to get a bachelor’s degree between Allegany College of Maryland and our program.”

Dr. Platt also gave information on the Associate to Bachelor grant program that is benefiting students from all over Maryland, not just from Frostburg.

“The Associate to Bachelor’s grant allows students in any community college in the state of Maryland to take FSU nursing courses while completing their community-college based nursing courses and obtain a bachelor’s degree in a very reasonable time frame,” said Dr. Platt. “There is a huge push in Maryland for nurses to have a bachelor’s degree, so state wide that’s helping accomplish that need.”

When Dr. Platt was asked why Frostburg does not independently seek its own nursing program without seeking to collaborate with other community colleges, she was not afraid to address some of the limitations, having only one hospital locally accessible.

“We have entertained that idea, but we already have a program here in Allegany; so to recreate the wheel doesn’t seem like the best use of resources because nursing faculty are very hard to find,” said Dr. Platt. “We only have one hospital locally to give students clinical practice experiences, so if we were to open our own we would not necessarily have space for the Frostburg program and the program offered by Allegany College of Maryland.”

Dr. Rock went on to explain how the grant money has helped fund a new option for students at Frostburg who want to advance their knowledge in the nursing field.

“We are in the early stages of planning the program, but some of the grant money will be going towards helping develop a nurse practitioner master’s degree program,” said Dr. Rock. “And in that master’s level program there are going to be two different options for those students. They can either become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or they can become a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. I am working on eligibility criteria right now for that program, but we do expect those students to come in at a certain level.”

When Dr. Rock was asked about some of the differences and benefits of a nursing program in comparison to a physician, she was eager to explain because of her experience as a nurse practitioner.

“The program is very different,” said Dr. Rock. “Coming from a nurse practitioner program, once those students graduate from the program and become licensed in the state of Maryland, for example, they are independent providers meaning that they don’t have any supervision or any oversight from a physician so they are completely and totally responsible for looking after patients in the exact same way that a physician would care after his or her patients.”

Due to the high level of responsibility that nurse practitioners have, Dr. Rock was not afraid to address some of the stigmas that nurses face in current day society.

“Nurse practitioners were known as mid-level providers which was a term that was used primarily by physicians and insurance companies and is still used today,” said Dr. Rock. This was in an effort to decrease the public’s opinion and value in regards to nurse practitioner and physician assistants. “So if you went to a nurse practitioner and said something about a mid-level provider it would almost be taken as a derogatory term because there is nothing mid-level about the care that they provide, nor physician assistants.”

According to both women, there are 457 undergraduates currently in the R.N. – B.S.N. program and 60 students are on a leave of absence. Those 60 people are still considered students, but they are not taking a class this semester. However, in the master’s program there are 24 active students and just a few that are on leave of absence.

Finally, Dr. Platt was able to explain some of the criteria that the nursing program looks for in students and how to start from a fresh perspective.

Dr.Platt specified that the nursing program does not look for certain personality or character types. ”However, the student has to be a very mature person because the field has a high standard for things that include confidentiality and ethical dilemmas.”

Dr. Platt currently serves as the pre-nursing major advisor. According to Dr. Platt, the nursing department will evaluate a student’s courses and make sure that they are taking the right science courses.

”Once a student is on the right path they have two options to becoming a registered nurse,” said Dr. Platt. ”You can transfer to a school of nursing such as Towson or University of Maryland, as there are several in the state. Or you can join our collaborative program with Allegany College of Maryland and either way come out with bachelors in nursing. People change every day, so there is still hope if you want to change late!”

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