Patriot Ledger // Published March 13, 2019 // By Mary Whitfill

QUINCY — The nursing program at Quincy College has been granted initial approval status to relaunch degree and certificate courses at its Quincy and Plymouth campuses, 10 months after students were left in the cold by the state’s decision to revoke the programs’ accreditation.

The college announced Wednesday that it is now accepting applications to its Associate in Science Degree in Nursing and Certificate of Completion in Practical Nursing programs. The school is approved to accept 80 students to the associates degree program and 40 to the certificate program. Classes will start in the fall of 2019.

“I’m thrilled. As far as timeline goes we beat all expectations so I’ve got a lot of thank yous,” Quincy Mayor Thomas Koch said Wednesday. “They had to rewrite the entire curriculum, the labs are in good shape and it’s all been redone from the ground up. The state has worked with us all along the way. . . The key is that we continue to hold high standards. What happened last year was a tough lesson for the college.”

The state Board of Registration in Nursing voted last May to withdraw approval of Quincy College’s nursing programs, citing low test scores and a declining number of students passing their licensing exams. A year before, the practical-nursing and registered-nursing programs were both given the status of “approval with warning” from the board.

Students who were planning to graduate in the summer of 2018 were still allowed to take their license exams, but every one else was forced transfer to other schools or try to wait for the college to receive state approval again. If a Massachusetts college doesn’t have state approval, graduates from its nursing programs cannot take the national licensure tests needed to become a nurse.

Two months later, former Sheriff Michael Belloti was appointed as the college’s new president.

Mihal says the new version of the program includes expanded facilities and will be based on the recommendations of the Massachusetts Nurse of the Future Nursing Core Competencies. Implementing competency-based programs means students will be expected to hit benchmarks in patient-centered care, professionalism, leadership, informatics and technology, communication, teamwork and collaboration and other areas.

“In nursing today there is just so much material that has to be covered, so that’s kind of the reason we’ve done this. It makes a lot of sense,” Mihal said Wednesday. “They’ll be even more prepared now than they were before. This is a really good program.”

Mihal said that she and her staff worked to redesign every aspect of the nursing program, and she’s confident the new standards will mean graduating competent and prepared students.

The school is accepting applications for both programs starting this fall, but Mihal said applications will not reopen the associates program that would begin in 2020. Instead, Quincy College will wait a full year before taking on another class.

“The reason we aren’t taking another round of students is because we want to make sure everything works,” she said. “We are really being very cautious to make sure we get any kinks out of the program, if there are any.”

The Certificate of Completion in Practical Nursing program, which is a 40-week course, will not take a year off and will enroll again as soon as the first class is complete.

Koch says he understands any skepticism surrounding the program following its loss of accreditation, but wants to assure potential students that there is nothing to worry about.

“When you have a program that is just out of the box, I would think students would have confidence in that program because the state has been watching it so closely every step of the way,” he said. “And the reality is that there aren’t enough seats around for nursing students. It’s a great vocation with a lot of job availability, so i think we’re going to be able to come back in a robust way.”

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