Despite Southeast Arkansas College’s decision earlier this year to voluntarily suspend one of its nursing programs, there are 16 other options in the field, such as practical nursing, for students to choose from to further their education. Just recently, the Arkansas State Board of Nursing issued SEARK continued approval for the practical nursing program through 2022.


“Receiving confirmation of the continued program approval for the practical nursing program reflects the hard work by the nursing department and our students to become a part of the healthcare community serving the region,” said SEARK Dean of Nursing and Allied Health Jennifer Holcomb in a press release.


“We are challenging ourselves to make the programs offered throughout the nursing and allied health department better for our students, faculty and ultimately our future patients.”


In order for a program to receive “continued approval,” the Arkansas State Board of Nursing sets specific standards that have to be met through a review of program curriculum,


National Council Licensure Examination pass rates, facilities, faculty qualifications, student retention and fiscal programs. Graduates’ qualification of licensure as a nurse in the United States depends on the continued approval by the board.


SEARK President Steven Bloomberg described the approval as a “positive indicator about the future of the program and an illustration of the dedication of our students and the talents of our faculty.”


Last week, SEARK officials announced they were temporarily suspending their Associate of Nursing Degree’s online LPN/Paramedic-to-RN transitioning program in an effort to improve it.


Similar to the practical nursing program, the LPN/Paramedic-to-RN transitioning program is also approved by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing, except through 2019.


According to SEARK vice president of student affairs Scott Kuttenkuler, it is the college’s first time to suspend enrollment into a program.


“There is never going to be an ideal time to hold enrollment for a program,” he said. “However, the planned changes are of a magnitude that they cannot be incorporated within the existing structure while trying to offer the courses at the same time.”


The decision to halt enrollment into the program came as a result of a culmination of things, according to Kuttenkuler.


“Every three years, the most recent update was in 2017, the NCLEX-RN exam is updated,” he said. “At the same time, we are constantly analyzing student pass rates and exploring ways to increase success. In the fall of 2017, we began exploring alternatives that promote an increase in skill and knowledge mastery by the student.”


With the revamp of the program, SEARK officials hope to install a concept-based approach that will include embedded assessments of students’ knowledge and skill development which they state is line with the NCLEX exams.


“The embedded assessments will provide timely feedback throughout the program of study about student’s level of mastery of the subject matter and the skills required of a nurse in the field,” Kuttenkuler said. “The redesign will strengthen instructional support to incorporate new classroom resources to enhance student learning.”


For more information about the Practical Nursing program or the other programs in the Nursing and Allied Health department visit http://www.seark.edu/.