In an effort to improve the Associate of Nursing Degree at Southeast Arkansas College, the institution has decided to revamp the program and temporarily suspend it. In Wednesday’s SEARK Board of Trustees meeting, President Steven Bloomberg made the announcement.


“We have made a voluntary decision as a campus to renovate what I will call some of our career pathways in our nursing program,” said Bloomberg. “That program will come back online in about a year. But I wanted the board to know that we’ve taken those two courses down for now and we are currently revamping (and) revising the program to meet what I will call more contemporary protocols in the healthcare industry.”


The decision will impact the generic option for the Associates of Nursing Degree and the LPN/Paramedic to RN transitioning program.


“It’s a project to improve our product so we provide our business and industry partners in healthcare with the best possible graduates that we can,” said Bloomberg. “As a college, we decided that it was in the best interest of our students and the healthcare partners that we serve to take the program down, revise it, bring back up new and improved and again, equip our graduates with more contemporary skills for the healthcare area.”


According to Bloomberg, the decision will go into effect at the end of May, allowing students who are currently in either program to opt to do a “teach-out” that will allow them to stay on track to graduate. Additionally, those who wish to pursue either program still have the option to take the prerequisites and general studies courses associated with the degree.


“We are not stopping students from enrolling,” he said. “Students can continue to enroll in gateway courses like anatomy, physiology (and) those types of things that are prerequisites to those nursing pathways. Our commitment is still to our students to take those prerequisites to the program.”


SEARK’s nursing program isn’t the only thing at the college that’s undergoing an overhaul. As of now, less than 60 percent of the college’s website is mobile-friendly. But that will soon change as the college is reviewing items that are either not mobile-friendly, such as the Net Price Calculator and e2campus signup. According to the technology services director, JoAnn Dupra, four items need to be replaced or retired, including SEARK.EDU, WebAdvisor, Net Price Calculator and the old online application.


“The sum total of this is 59 percent of what we got right now is mobile-friendly and another 18 percent will be by the end of this year…,” said Dupra. “Twenty-three percent will have to be replaced.”


Bloomberg hopes the changes will allow the college to not only be more marketable, but also competitive with other institutions near and far.


“They’ve done a fantastic job, and there’s going to be some more exciting changes as we start to re-evaluate our website and other ways that we reach out and communicate with our students and potential students in the future,” said Bloomberg. “In order for us to compete, which is what we do — we compete with institutions internationally — our presence has to be competitive in that set. And we can’t look at our competition as any institution that’s five miles, 10 miles, or 50 miles; our competition is anyone who provides the same services faster and more efficiently and better than we do.”


Also, Bloomberg is currently looking at a third-party agency to conduct an audit of the marketing efforts from Fall 2015 to Spring 2017 in order to compile a suggested marketing plan based on the research and findings.


“We need to look at a significant renovation to our website,” said Bloomberg. “Our website is our link to the world and our social media efforts are intended to drive people back to the website for more information, registration and so we are going to be looking at putting together probably a more comprehensive discussion on how to get this third-party agency to do that.”