Providing Quality Nursing Education to the Citizens of Missouri
University of Central Missouri was founded as a State Normal School on March 19, 1871. The school was first accredited as a four-year teachers college in 1919 and in 1946 became Central Missouri State College. In August 1972, authorization by the state legislature enabled the college to become University of Central Missouri. Centrally and conveniently located in its geographic area, a rural area 50 miles east of Kansas City at the intersection of two major highways and a short distance from a major interstate, the University has demonstrated tremendous growth in all areas in the last 40 years. The University serves approximately 12,000 students.
A baccalaureate program in nursing was initiated in September 1960 in response to inquiries and requests from students, parents, nurses, and community leaders. Considering the institution's location and available facilities, the shortage of nurses being prepared in the state, and the school's philosophy of "Education for Service," there was good rationale for providing for the education of potential nurses. The University offered a Bachelor of Science Degree with a functional major in Nursing upon completion of the required nursing course work and number of hours required for graduation. Two nursing faculty members were employed for that initial year. Four students were accepted into the new program. Of these four students, one graduated with honors in 1963 and two graduated the following year. By 1964, four additional faculty members had been employed and 29 students were enrolled in nursing education. By 1973, the curriculum refinement process continued with a stable, cohesive, and well-prepared faculty.
One aspect of the curriculum which caused concern was the necessity of students to take evening classes at the University's city extension center in order to complete general studies requirements after their move to Kansas City. The move to Kansas City has always been considered advantageous to the students' learning because of the opportunity to compare rural and urban cultures, persons, and health care systems, and to interact with students from various other health disciplines. Evening classes, however, were scheduled some distance from the students' residences, were seen as somewhat burdensome and a hindrance to students' participation in area nursing recreational activities in the evening. In 1975, after several months of deliberation, the extension center was transferred by the state legislature from University of Central Missouri to the University of Missouri. This action necessitated students' completion of general studies courses on campus and facilitated a major curriculum change leading to resolution of the concern over evening classes in Kansas City. An opportunity was also presented to implement ideas under consideration concerning maternal-child integration and to continue more diligently to expand on various emphases of the Lysaught Report (1970) which had been initiated particularly in the Distributive Nursing course in 1973.
In December 1977, after consultation with National League for Nursing personnel, a faculty member of the Department of Nursing with master's preparation in nursing working toward a doctoral degree in education was appointed as chair. The program's self-evaluation study for accreditation was completed. The program was granted initial accreditation in 1978. Faculty activities in the years following initial accreditation were focused on curricular reorganization and refinement. The curriculum reorganization was very successful including the transition from a term based system to a semester based system.
The nursing program celebrated its 25th year in 1985. A number of activities to honor university faculty and staff and the 478 graduates of the program were planned and enjoyed. Flexibility was the operative word for the Department of Nursing in 1985 as the University employed a new president and a new provost, both of whom added their voices to administrative support of the nursing program. The faculty reflected proudly upon many years of positive growth and projected this pride and sense of professional accomplishment into the future.
In 1986 the program was granted continued accreditation by the National League for Nursing. In 1990, a five-year internal review was conducted by University of Central Missouri. The conclusions of that review reflected support for the program, its contribution to the University and to the community. The changing nature of student participation with increasing numbers of nontraditional students, registered nurse students, transfers from community and senior colleges brought new teaching/learning challenges and energized the program. As a result of these efforts, since 1987, there has been a trend of increased numbers of graduates and increased enrollment in the major.
Between 1987 and 1989 considerable faculty attention was given to program evaluation and curriculum changes. Faculty also undertook major initiatives to enhance program enrollment. Policies for the Advanced Placement of Registered Nurses were revised and new policies developed to facilitate transfer of nursing students from senior colleges and universities. A major renovation of the facilities was completed in 1990. In 1990, the program was granted continued accreditation through 1994.
The Department of Nursing is currently housed in two facilities having relocated the Kansas City offices and classrooms from North Kansas City in July, 1991. North Kansas City Hospital shares their resources with students, faculty and staff at that location. Access to the North Kansas City Hospital library, in addition to all publicly supported libraries located in institutions of higher education in the state of Missouri, make this site particularly appealing for students and faculty alike. In May 2008 the senior year of the program relocated from the North Kansas City Hospital to the Central Summit Center, Lee's Summit.
The Department is staffed by a well-credentialed faculty having several faculty with doctoral degrees. Extensive curriculum revision occurred in 2005 and positioned the Department of Nursing well for the future. The program completed the reaccreditation process in 2006, receiving the maximum 10 year accreditation status. The Department continues to admit generic students twice a year along with increased numbers of Advanced Placement Registered Nurse students. The Masters degree in the Nursing program was implemented in 2000.