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Amy Dalrymple, Published October 06 2009

MSUM cuts one nursing program and plans to add to another

Minnesota State University Moorhead is phasing out one nursing degree due to budget challenges, but expects to put more resources into a remaining nursing program.

New students are not being admitted into the bachelor of science in nursing, or BSN, degree, and President Edna Szymanski is recommending the program be cut.

But MSUM will continue to offer a bachelor’s degree program for students who have a registered nursing degree, called the RN to bachelor’s program, or RNB.

Szymanski said the recommendation to discontinue the BSN stems from a reduction in state support for MSUM and discussions about how to best use those resources.

The decision still needs to be approved by different governing bodies on campus and at the system level.

MSUM will continue to serve students who are already in the program. Faculty will not be cut.

By phasing out the BSN program, MSUM will be able to direct more resources into the RNB program, Szymanski said. Interest in that program has recently exceeded capacity.

“This should, in the long run, allow us to serve more students,” Szymanski said.

During the 2008-09 academic year, MSUM awarded 42 RNB degrees and 31 BSN degrees.

Kathy Burlingame, dean of nursing at Minnesota State Community and Technical College, said she understands the financial constraints on MSUM, but she’s disappointed the program will be discontinued.

The BSN program was an accelerated degree that could be completed in three years, which was a unique niche, Burlingame said.

Although there are not as many job openings currently, Minnesota is predicted to have a nursing shortage as many nurses retire and the region’s population ages, Burlingame said.

MSCTC partners closely with MSUM to offer the RN degree.

MSUM also is evaluating its doctor of nursing practice program, which is offered through a consortium of four state universities. Officials are looking at whether the cost of the program makes it feasible for MSUM to continue as a full partner.

MSUM closed a $9 million budget gap this year, and expects further cuts in the future.

“We can’t be all things to all people,” Szymanski said. “We have very scarce resources.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590