Nursing School Gets Approval For First-of-its Kind Program

Okay, so it may be a dummy patient now, but soon enough Rosie Smith will be treating real people, maybe even you.

"It's important to me to help others," said Smith.

She's part of the last group of nursing students at Cisco College before students were no longer allowed to be admitted.

That came after the Texas Board of Nurses took away its approval of the program after the passing rates fell below 80 percent.

"There seemed to be actually a flaw in the curriculum," said Dr. Pearl Merritt, Dean of the Nursing Program at both Cisco College and Texas Tech University in Abilene.

But, now there's an entirely new curriculum and it's all been approved.

"The concepts flow from newborns to elderly, so it's much easier for them to begin to tie things together," said Donella Tucker, who was one of the creators of the new curriculum.

This couldn't come at a better time, when nurses are needed most.

"There are many nurses, over 50 percent that will be retiring pretty soon," said Merritt.

Perhaps the biggest change in curriculum will be the fact that students will be able to move from the labs at Cisco College, to labs at Texas Tech, where they can complete a B.N. in two semesters.

It's the first time it's been done anywhere in Texas.

Faculty have gone from a program that they admit had its flaws, to a curriculum other schools around the state are looking to model.

"The Institute of Nursing has reported that they want to see by 2020 80 percent of the nurses have a Bachelor of Science Degree," said Merritt.

So, while Smith is getting ready to graduate in May, she's preparing to head back to the classroom to get her Bachelor's.

"My dream has always been to work hospice care and that's going to take me and advance my career," said Smith.

It may take a few more dummy patients, but she's convinced this is the place that will get her to that dream. 

The first associates degree in nursing program will begin Fall 2013.

Applications are being accepted through May 17 at Cisco College.

Only 35 students will be accepted for the first class.

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