Western establishes school of nursing and health professions

Departmental Featured News News

Tuesday, Feb. 9, Missouri Western State University Board of Governors approved the establishment of a new School of Nursing and Health Professions.  

The School of Nursing and Health Professions will be housed within the College of Professional Studies and will be led by an associate dean. The new school will include Western’s undergraduate and master’s degree programs in nursing, as well as the undergraduate degrees in health information management, physical therapy and the population health management degree.

Dean of Professional Studies Kathleen O’Connor acknowledges the complexities of the health relations programs and the need for a well-rounded professional staff.

“The nursing program at Missouri Western is one of our biggest and strongest programs, and there also is health information management and the physical therapy assistant program. It is a very complex and challenging department to manage, just because of the complexities. Admission requirements for students [and] progression requirements are very strict, and all of the students are out doing clinical experiences,” said O’Connor. “There are  just a lot of external relationships that need to be maintained and fostered, so it really takes someone in that position that can manage all of that. It goes beyond the scope of most of our academic departments.”

Provost and Vice President for academic affairs, Jeanne Daffron, is excited to see Western take this momentous step.

“The number of faculty, number of students and number of graduates annually from programs in the existing Department of Nursing and Allied Health are similar to the numbers in the current Craig School of Business and the School of Fine Arts,” Daffron said. “School designation recognizes the excellence these programs have achieved and positions us well to reach new heights.”

Western’s nursing program began as an associate’s degree program in 1971, admitting only 15 students. In 1986, the degree was expanded to a four year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. A Master of Science in Nursing degree was established in 2010, offering two major concentrations: Healthcare Leadership and Nursing Educator.

Western admits approximately 100 students each year to the BSN program, with several working Registered Nursing students taking advantage of the RN to BSN program, which allows nurses to obtain their degree while they continue working.

The health information management program began as an associate’s degree program in 1994, transitioning into a bachelor’s degree in 2010. The physical therapy assistant program began in 1996, and was housed at Mosaic Life Care until the construction of Murphy Hall on Missouri Western’s campus in 2000.

In 2015 Mosaic Life Care established the first endowed Professorship in Western history, pledging $1.5 million to create an endowed professorship of Population Health. The gift helped establish a bachelor’s degree program in population health management, offered exclusively to Western students.

Missouri Western President Robert Vartabedian feels the establishment of the new school will highlight the roles the programs have in the university’s growth.

“Our health-related programs are extremely well respected and warrant a ‘school’ designation,” Vartabedian said. “The change recognizes the important role these programs have at Missouri Western, and will enhance the already strong external relationships our nursing and health professions programs have with Mosaic Life Care and other health industry organizations.”

Four of the five programs in the School of Nursing and Health Professions have achieved national accreditation. However, there has yet to be an opportunity for accreditation in the health management program.