February 17, 2017

Elms College School of Nursing adds MSN track, graduate certificate in school nursing

Staff report

Elms College School of Nursing

CHICOPEE – To expand opportunities for school nurses to fulfill Massachusetts state education requirements, the School of Nursing at College of Our Lady of the Elms has announced a new master of science in nursing degree and a graduate certificate in school nursing.

In Massachusetts, school nurses are required to earn a board certification in school nursing or a master’s degree within five years of starting employment, but there is currently only one school-nursing-focused graduate program in New England.

“The addition of the school nursing track to our MSN program demonstrates Elms College’s commitment to addressing the needs of the surrounding communities, as well as the needs of nurses to continually develop themselves as professionals,” said Cynthia L. Dakin, director of graduate nursing studies at Elms.

School nursing is a multifaceted role that includes assessment; diagnosis; outcomes identification; planning, implementing and coordinating care; health teaching and health promotion; and consulting. The school nurse must work with school physicians, licensed practical nurses, health aides, counselors, and psychologists. School nurses often oversee the health of a large group of students with vastly different needs, and these students are sometimes spread over several schools.

The new school nurse track at Elms College will comprise the college’s current MSN curriculum components, with a special focus on school nursing: four courses in the graduate nursing core; three courses in the direct-care core; four courses in functional area content (in this case, courses focused on content specific to the role and practice of the school nurses, as defined by professional standards, plus two courses related to technology and informatics); and two school nurse practicum courses.

The graduate certificate in school nursing will be similar to the certificate programs Elms offers for the other MSN tracks. It will not fulfill the state American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) board-certification requirement, but will benefit nurses who have completed a graduate degree in another area or discipline and want to update their knowledge base specifically related to school nursing.

All bachelor’s-level nurses will be eligible to enroll in the graduate certificate in school nursing. This program will consist of 12 credits, with four functional-area courses and one direct-care course from which the student could choose to complete the 12 credits. This track will offer multiple class options over the course of study: traditional classroom attendance, livestream, and archived videos.

The school nursing track is already enrolling students to start in required graduate core classes in fall 2017, and the first school nursing functional content courses will roll out starting in spring 2018. Elms College’s MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). CCNE encourages and evaluates programs for high-quality educational programming that plans and delivers academic excellence and innovation while fostering partnerships within the diverse healthcare setting.