A New Program for Nursing in Community College
by Mildred Montag - 1953
In a search for a more desirable design for the preparation of nurses, the Division of Nursing Education of Teachers College has been studying for some time the educational patterns which have proved effective in other fields. It has also been interested in exploring the functions of nursing, and study in this area continues.
THE Cooperative Research Project in Junior and Community College Education for Nursing has as its primary purpose the developing of a new type of program for the preparation of nurses. Interest in experimentation in programs of nursing in colleges offering two-year semiprofessional curricula stems from the need for a more effective and more economical system of education for nursing and from the rapid development of community colleges. The existing system of education for nursing is almost entirely outside the general system of education of this country. The programs preparing for nursing are predominantly of the apprenticeship type. Almost 90 per cent of all programs in nursing are conducted by hospitals and are directed primarily toward the needs of the hospital for nursing service.
In a search for a more desirable design for the preparation of nurses, the Division of Nursing Education of Teachers College has been studying for some time the educational patterns which have proved effective in other fields. It has also been interested in exploring the functions of nursing, and study in this area continues. In 1952 the Division of Nursing Education received an anonymous grant of $110,000 to be used over a five-year period in experimentation with a new type of educational program in junior and community colleges. This grant provides for a program of cooperative research with a number of carefully selected colleges.
Certain basic assumptions underlie the evaluation of the proposed new type of program in preparation for nursing. First, it is assumed possible and desirable to differentiate the functions of nursing. McManus1 states that the functions of nursing can be regarded as on a continuum or as having a spectrum-like range. This is in contrast with the general belief that all nursing functions fall into a single categorythe professional. Actually, there are three discernible categories of functions within the occupation of nursing. Certain functions have professional characteristics and require a professional type of education. Others demand very little training and might, conceivably, be learned on the job. Between these two extremes is a considerable number of nursing functions of the technical or semiprofessional type. Therefore, the largest number of workers is needed to carry out these functions.
A second assumption is that educational programs can and should be devised to prepare for each of these categories of functions. The programs preparing for the technical type of functions can be most effectively carried on in junior and community colleges which have similar programs for other fields. The emphasis on the technical or semi-professional type of program within this project does not in any way minimize the need for study of the preparation for the other two categories of functions. Indeed, if the problem of supplying adequate nursing care to the American people is to be solved, programs preparing for all kinds of nursing functions will need careful study.
The third assumption is that, if the functions of nursing can be differentiated and if programs preparing for these functions can be devised, the workers will need to have some plan of working together. The nursing team is, according to the results of various studies, the most effective way to use workers with different functions and, consequently, different preparation.
It is also assumed that the experimental programs can prepare the worker within a two-year period to perform technical or semiprofessional functions. Upon graduation it is assumed the worker is prepared for beginning practitioner positions and prepared to become competent rather than being fully competent.
The final assumption is that these programs are planned to conclude the formal educational preparation of the worker, with the exception that with individual qualifications a few students would be eligible for education in nursing at the upper divisional level.
GENERAL PLANS FOR THE PROJECT
The Cooperative Research Project in Junior and Community College Education for Nursing provides for the selection of a number of junior or community colleges which are willing and able to undertake a new type of program in preparation for nursing. The colleges selected will include both those publicly supported and those privately supported, and will be located in various sections of the country. The essential criteria for selection are eagerness on the part of the administration and faculty to develop the new type of program and willingness and preparedness to share in the cooperative aspects of the research.
A small research staff has been appointed to develop and carry on the project and to serve as consultants to the faculties of the cooperating colleges. The staff includes those whose major interest and preparation are in the field of education for nursing and those who are expert in the junior and community college field. The research staff may be supplemented as the need arises to provide special services or consultation to the cooperating colleges. Work conferences and other types of group meetings are planned for those participating in the project.
An advisory committee has been organized to review plans and purposes, help establish criteria for the selection of cooperating colleges, and give counsel as the project develops. This committee of sixteen members includes representatives from junior colleges, nursing education, allied professional groups, and the consumers of nursing. In addition to representing a variety of interests, the committee members represent different sections of the country. The committee meets at least once annually. Provision has been made for a subcommittee to meet more frequently if the research staff deems it necessary. Dr. Henry Littlefield, vice president of the University of Bridgeport, is chairman of the advisory committee. The advisory committee has met twice: in March 1952 and January 1953.
Evaluation of the new type of educational program is one of the major concerns of those cooperating in the project and is being carried on concurrently with the development of the programs. Results will be summarized and reported as the study progresses, and a detailed summary will be made at the end of the five-year period provided for in the grant. It is expected that the findings of the research done will indicate whether or not this kind of program in preparation for nursing can and should be offered in other junior and community colleges throughout the country.
CHARACTERISTICS OF PROPOSED PROGRAM
The program proposed for the colleges cooperating in the project would differ in several respects from the nursing programs now in existence. Some of these characteristics are:
1. The program will be college centered and college controlled. The faculty of the college will be responsible for planning all aspects of the program and for all teaching within the curriculum. It will be an integral part of the total college program.
2. It will be a two-year curriculum in nursing combining both general education and technical training. General education will account for about one-third of the total curriculum and nursing for about two-thirds of the curriculum. Students in nursing will share the courses in general education with other students.
3. The curriculum will offer fewer courses and broader grouping of subject matter. Learning experiences will be carefully organized but flexible enough to provide meaningful learning without unnecessary repetition.
4. Facilities of the communityincluding hospitals, clinics, visiting nurse associations, convalescent homes, homes for the aged, and nursery schoolswill be utilized to provide a variety of learning experiences. No part of the program will be hospital controlled.
5. The nursing program students will enjoy the same status as all other students in the college. They will be eligible for all activities of the college and will be held to the same standards of admission, graduation, and the like.
6. The faculty for the specialized courses in nursing will be selected as are other faculty members. They will enjoy the same privileges and share the same responsibilities.
7. The program will be supported from the same sources and in the same way as other programs. The same tuition fees will be paid by all students.
8. Students will live at home or make their own living arrangements. Most junior and community colleges do not provide dormitories. If they do, students in nursing will be eligible to live in them. No special housing for nursing students will be provided.
9. Students will qualify for the associate degree.
10. Students will be eligible for the licensing examination of the state in which the college is located.
CRITERIA FOR SELECTING COOPERATING COLLEGES
In order to provide for the selection of those colleges best able to cooperate effectively in the Cooperative Research Project, certain criteria were set up. These should be useful to colleges wishing to determine whether they can qualify for participation in the project and for the research staff in making the selection. The criteria include:
1. Willingness of the college to assume complete control of the program in nursing.
2. Willingness and ability of the college to provide and pay for the new type of program.
3. Willingness of hospitals and other agencies to provide clinical facilities for learning experiences with service as a by-product only. The college will need the kind of community relationships which permit coordination of the various facilities.
4. Availability within the community of adequate clinical experiences in a variety of agencies. This is a quantitative and qualitative measure.
5. Acceptance of the program by the college faculty, and provision for students in nursing to become an integral part of the college and eligible to participate in all its activities.
6. Readiness of the community for this type of program.
7. The school, or division, or department of nursing should be of adequate size. Success of the experimental program will rest upon its cost as well as its quality.
8. Graduates of the program must be eligible for licensure within the state in which the college is located. Licensure laws and regulations differ with the various states. A close working relationship with the State Board of Nurse Examiners is essential.
9. The college should be prepared to carry through the research project to a logical conclusion.
SOME QUESTIONS TO BE ANSWERED
The advisory committee, at its first meeting, assisted in identifying some of the questions which might be answered in the cooperative research project. It is probable that some may be answered fully within the life of the project, others only in part. Answers to some of the following questions should be very useful to those planning for education for nursing in the future.
What is the cost of education for nursing in the new type of program?
What kinds of facilities are necessary for this type of program?
What learning experiences are best in preparing nurses for technical functions?
How do general education and a part in college life affect the product of the program? Is the product usable?
What in-service education is necessary on the part of the employing agency?
Is the program tapping new resources of personnel for nursing? Why do students withdraw? Why are they attracted to this program? What do they do after graduation?
What revision of assumptions is needed as a result of progress of the project?
Two colleges have thus far established experimental programs in education for nursing and have entered into a cooperative relationship with the project. One, Orange County Community College, Middletown, New York, is a public institution, a part of the State University of New York. The second institution, Fairleigh Dickinson College, Rutherford, New Jersey, is a privately supported four-year institution which also offers two-year terminal programs. Both institutions have received approval to operate experimental programs from their respective State Departments of Education and State Boards of Nurse Examiners. Both institutions offered nursing programs in September 1952 and admitted students in the winter semester.
Other institutions now in the planning stage will join the project by September 1953. At least two more colleges will offer two-year programs at that time. It is anticipated that the remaining colleges will be selected and will offer programs in nursing by September 1954.
The Cooperative Research Project is concerned with the development of a new type of educational program in preparation for nursing in a selected number of junior or community colleges. The type of program proposed is based upon certain assumptions as to the functions of nursing and as to the essential characteristics of a program in nursing. The first year's activities within the project have concerned themselves with interpretation of the purposes and plans of the project, exploration of potential cooperating institutions, and consultation with administration and faculty of colleges, either those cooperating or those planning programs. The next years of the project will concern themselves more with intensive study within the programs offered by the cooperating colleges and evaluation of the findings.