CON celebrates 40 years of nursing education and reaccreditation

Morgan Bailey, academic staff member; Col. Carolyn Jolitz; Rebecca Cleveland, assistant director, Student Academic Affairs Undergraduate Program; and Dean Rosemary Smith attend a luncheon for active and inactive military nursing students.

Alumni, faculty, staff and students in the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s College of Nursing (CON) had plenty of reason to celebrate in October.

40 years of excellence

CON’s 40 years of success and its recent reaccreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) were recognized with a special presentation and reception.

Col. Carolyn Jolitz BSN ’84 and MSN ’94, was presented with the 2010 UW Oshkosh Distinguished Alumni awards from the University and CON. Jolitz serves as deputy commander for nursing services at the Army Medical Activity in Fort Knox, Ky.

“Col. Jolitz exemplifies everything our mission and vision stands for,” said CON Dean Rosemary Smith. “She’s a devoted, caring and scholarly leader who impacts the lives of others daily.”

Jolitz met with military nursing students for one-on-one discussions prior to her presentation, ”Nursing Leadership: Facing a Decade of Challenge.”

“Our students who currently serve or have served in the military were especially touched to meet Col. Jolitz and listen to her experiences,” Smith said.

After the one-on-one discussions and presentation, alumni from CON’s graduating class of 1970, faculty and students attended a dinner reception.

Reaccreditation for the future

Guests at the event celebrated not only 40 years of excellence, but also the news that both the CON’s undergraduate and graduate programs received the maximum 10-year reaccreditation.

“After the announcement, you could feel a sense of pride among the alumni and students,“ Smith said. “Attending an accredited college means so much for students.“

Accredited college nursing programs give students the opportunity to enroll in graduate programs and the ability to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses.

Four representatives from the CCNE, a division of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, visited UW Oshkosh in April for the reaccreditation review.

One of the key areas CCNE reviews is the satisfaction of students, faculty, employers and community members.

As a student and president of the Oshkosh Student Nurses Association, Amanda Bodjanac, a BSN junior from Green Bay, believes a degree from a high-quality, accredited college will give her an edge in the job market.

“UW Oshkosh’s College of Nursing has a fabulous reputation as being a college that prepares and produces skilled nurses for our healthcare community,” she said.

Receiving a 10-year accreditation, in each program, is the highest honor given by the CCNE.

Growing successful, innovative programs

Since the establishment of CON in 1970, the undergraduate and graduate programs have continued to grow and provide more options for students.

“In the first 40 years, we graduated 5,000 BSN students, and it will take less than 20 years to graduate the next 5,000,” said Colleen Huseboe, CON advancement officer.

New and revised graduate program emphases also contributed to CON’s growth over its 40-year history. Emphases include a fast track RN to a BSN (BSN at Home) to a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN); a bachelor’s degree to a MSN; and a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Another factor in CON’s success is its 100-percent pass rate on the family nurse practitioner exam since 1999.

“UW Oshkosh is recognized for academic excellence and has been since its founding,” Smith said. “We plan to continue this success by providing students with new, innovative programs.”

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