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New this fall: core curriculum, diversity fellow, nursing programs, counseling accreditation

September 13, 2017

When classes resumed this fall, Ursuline College rolled out a new core curriculum, several new nursing initiatives and the college’s second Faculty Diversity Fellow.

“We are very happy to be offering so many new opportunities for learning at Ursuline College this fall,” said Sister Christine De Vinne, OSU, Ph.D., president of the college. “At different levels and in different fields, we know these initiatives will further prepare students for service, leadership and professional excellence.”

Learning at the Core
Ursuline’s new, 40-credit core curriculum represents an update of a curriculum that made national headlines 25 years ago for its focus on women’s ways of learning. “That curriculum was informed by feminist scholarship of the time but relied on a staged approach to learning that we now know does not necessarily reflect the way students learn. On a practical level, the staged approach also presented unnecessary barriers to transfer students,” said Mary Frances Pipino, associate professor and director of the Ursuline Studies program.

The new core, she explained, includes seminars rooted in the teachings of St. Angela Merici, the 15th century saint who founded the Ursuline order. These nine credits are integrated with 31 credits in the arts and sciences, “demonstrating a commitment to teaching in the Catholic intellectual tradition that is lifelong, interdisciplinary, inclusive, collaborative, socially responsible, and spiritual in nature.”

Nursing: From post-high school to post-master’s
Nursing is, by far, the largest field of study at Ursuline, with nearly half of all undergraduates and half of all graduate students in the college’s Breen School of Nursing. This fall the college adds:
  • a year-long pre-nursing program, funded by the Cleveland Foundation, to help under-prepared high school graduates transition into the bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) program;
  • two new dual enrollment agreements with community colleges for RNs (registered nurses) seeking the BSN; and
  • a post-master’s program to prepare nurse practitioners for the certification exam to specialize in psychiatric mental health nursing.
The Pre-Nursing program provides fully-funded intensive summer bridge programs; subsidies to cover the costs of test fees; intensive academic advising and tutoring; professional nurse mentors who reflect the diversity of the student population; transportation; and ongoing academic, social and financial support.

“We know from the research that the most effective programs are those which focus on assisting students to establish high levels of self sufficiency and personal accountability through things like effective study skills, strong support systems, and role models who demonstrate professionalism,” said Nursing Dean Patricia Sharpnack, DNP, who is president of the Ohio Board of Nursing.

Partnerships Ursuline recently established with both Lakeland Community College and the Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus (A-Tech) enable students to dually enroll, completing their associate’s degree at the community college and completing the BSN through Ursuline. Students are eligible to take the state nursing exam upon earning the associate degree and can seek employment once they are licensed as a registered nurse.

“These affiliation agreements open new doors of opportunity for students at a time when the region’s nursing shortage is severe and growing,” said Sharpnack. “In addition, many local health care systems are requiring their nurses to earn a BSN within two to five years of hiring.”

In response to the significant and growing need for skilled and compassionate mental health care providers, Ursuline College is launching a post-master’s degree Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner program. Open to certified nurse practitioners, this three-semester track prepares students to take the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner certification exam, which tests knowledge and skill related to psychiatric advanced practice across the lifespan.

Advanced practice psychiatric nurses work in settings such as acute care, outpatient clinics, schools, prisons, health homes and behavioral health homes, long term care, and private practice. They conduct assessments and provide treatment, including therapy and medication prescription and management. A minimum of one year of experience working as a family nurse practitioner is required for admission to this new Ursuline program.

“For a number of different reasons, the demand for mental health care is growing dramatically in the United States,” said Sharpnack. “Millions of Americans gained coverage – including mental health care coverage – under the Affordable Care Act. The opioid crisis and the surge in need for psychiatric care for veterans are also straining health systems.”

Faculty Diversity Fellow
Lisa Brown, Ph.D. has joined the Ursuline faculty as the college’s second Faculty Diversity Fellow, a position supported by a grant from the KeyBank Foundation. Brown recently earned her doctorate in Adult Education, Learning, and Organization Development at the University of Georgia. “I look forward to continuing to learn the culture of academia while I write, teach and do research,” she said.Brown will teach a writing-intensive course in the core curriculum and present a campus colloquium based on her Spiral Dynamic Theory research and the integration of civic engagement learning into a college core curriculum.

Sister De Vinne said that in seeking support from the KeyBank Foundation, the college was maintaining its commitment to increasing under-represented presence on the faculty; enhancing the climate of diversity on campus; providing additional role models for students, particularly students of color; and providing two successive post-doctoral fellows with college faculty experience. Brown overlaps with Ursuline’s first faculty Diversity Fellow, Kristie Williams, Ph.D.

“At Ursuline College, we are committed to increasing the diversity of our faculty and we are very grateful that KeyBank Foundation embraced this goal and provided the funding that allowed us to bring Dr. Brown on board as a faculty member in this distinguished role,” Sister De Vinne said.

Counseling & Art Therapy program gains new accreditation
Ursuline’s graduate program in Counseling and Art Therapy is now accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), in recognition of the fact that the program has met rigorous, national standards for quality.
“CACREP accreditation is really the gold standard for counseling education programs in the United States,” said Sister De Vinne. “Our students can be confident that they are receiving a high quality education that has been validated by outside experts.”

Gail Rule-Hoffman, M.Ed., professor and program director of Counseling and Art Therapy, added, “CACREP accreditation is a very important addition to our existing approvals.” Ursuline offers two different tracks in the Master of Arts in Counseling and Art Therapy degree, each with longstanding approvals. The 65-credit Counseling and Art Therapy track is approved by the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker, Marriage & Family Therapist Board; by the American Art Therapy Association; and now by CACREP. The 55-credit art therapy track is approved by the American Art Therapy Association.

About Ursuline CollegeFounded in 1871, Ursuline College is an accredited, women-focused, independent college offering rigorous curricula in the liberal arts, nursing, and professional studies. At Ursuline, holistic education transforms students for service, leadership and professional excellence by providing undergraduate and graduate programs that foster lifelong learning and personal wisdom in an environment characterized by the college’s Catholic and Ursuline heritage; women-centered learning; values-based curricula; and inclusive, global perspective. 

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