Rumors dispelled surrounding Utah Tech Nursing Program

Kaitlyn Peterson, a freshman pre nursing student from Idaho Falls, takes a look at the Russell C. Taylor Health Science Building. Brynlee Wade | Sun News Daily

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Rumors surrounding Utah Tech University’s nursing program have been running rampant since September, but nursing students and faculty are coming to the program’s defense.

Two rumors have circulated through the student body:

  1. The nursing department put new applications on hold due to the last group of nursing students not passing their final exams.
  2. The program is losing its accreditation because of low exam grades.

“I don’t believe it’s true,” said Quinton Reeds, a senior nursing major from Newberg, Oregon. “It doesn’t seem to be affecting anyone. If it is, they certainly aren’t telling us.”

The nursing department faculty first heard the rumor from students who work at the St. George Regional hospital. Those students heard it from licensed practical nurses who graduated from Dixie Technical College.

“We actually went over there and talked with some of their students and held an information session with [Dixie Tech],” said Judy Scott, department chair for the nursing department.

Utah Tech started with only an associate degree program for nursing. It was decided through a nationwide report that patients cared for by nurses with a bachelor’s degree had better outcomes. Once that report came out, nursing programs nationwide started to develop bachelor’s degree programs. The associate degree program was phased out and a generic or pre-licensure program for students to earn their bachelor’s degree was added to the catalog.

Scott said Dixie Tech then came to Utah Tech with their graduating LPNs wondering how to get those students through the process of getting a bachelor’s degree. A bridge program was developed for paramedics, LPNs and medics from the armed forces to join Utah Tech and finish their education to get their bachelor’s degree.

Utah Tech now has a certified nursing assistant program, a bridge program, a pre-licensure program, a registered nurse to bachelor’s degree in nursing and will be opening a master’s degree program in educational leadership.

“We have already been granted candidacy for the master’s program,” Scott said. “If that tells you anything, we are not in any trouble at all.”

Nursing department faculty said they are excited to be opening the master’s program because it means they may be teaching future Utah Tech teachers. Scott said three or four of the current nursing professors are from Utah Tech’s graduate program.

“[Rumors like these] scare our students,” Scott said. “We’ve had some information sessions with them and talked about it.”

Scott said she also called the chief nursing officer at the hospital after students were hearing these rumors from other staff at the hospital.

“If there’s a problem, I go to the horse’s mouth,” Scott said. “I go to the head person and say: ‘Hey, this is what’s being told, how do we fix it?’ and they fixed it.”

Utah Tech officials and nursing faculty say they are eager to welcome students to the master’s degree program, open for enrollment in fall 2023.