Nursing students in Fresno State’s master’s program will be in limbo for at least a year after the program lost accreditation, the university announced Wednesday. No new students will be admitted to the program this fall.

“We are committed to minimizing any potential impact on our currently enrolled students.” — Jody Hironaka-Juteau, dean, College of Health and Human Services

There are 23 students enrolled in the program, which typically has 20 to 30 students per academic year. The current students have been notified and can withdraw temporarily from the program. It was not known as of Wednesday afternoon whether any students would take that step, said Jody Hironaka-Juteau, dean of Fresno State’s College of Health and Human Services.

In addition, the School of Nursing had received 28 applications to enter the master’s program this fall. Those students will not be admitted, said Patti Waid, Fresno State director of communications. The university will refund all application fees but keep the applications on record, Waid said.

University officials said the accrediting agency — the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education — won’t make a decision on restoring the program’s standing until spring 2020. Fresno State has arranged for commission representatives to come to Fresno in September to review the nursing master’s program first-hand.

Commission Said Documentation Inadequate

“Given our confidence in accreditation being reinstated in spring 2020, we are encouraging the master’s students to remain in the program,” Hironaka-Juteau said. “We are committed to minimizing any potential impact on our currently enrolled students.”

The nursing master’s degree program has been accredited since 1968 and has graduated about 1,500 over the years.

The commission notified Fresno State of its decision June 5. The commission said the nursing master’s program failed to adequately document or provide enough supporting data about how it evaluated and assessed student outcomes, clinical experiences, faculty performance, and overall program goals.

The commission reported that the university in some cases appeared to have evaluation and assessment plans in place, but then failed to adequately document those plans had been implemented.

‘We Were Surprised’

“We were surprised the accreditation agency made this decision,” Hironaka-Juteau said.

The commission’s decision does not affect any graduates of the nursing master’s program or other accredited programs in the School of Nursing, the university said.

If the commission reinstates the program, the accreditation would be retroactive to the scheduled site visit in September, the university said.

In response to the loss of accreditation, the School of Nursing hired an outside consultant with experience working with the nursing commission, with the goal of improving the preparation of materials the commission requires. The school also is working closely with Fresno State’s assessment coordinator to help raise the standards of its reporting.

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