School of Nursing attracts students across the country

Shane Beneke

Kent State prides itself in being one of the top schools of nursing in the country. Named the sixth largest nursing school in the nation by Modern Healthcare in 2010, the accredited college is one of the largest and most comprehensive programs in Ohio.

The school also boasts over 350 partnerships with hospitals, clinics and healthcare organizations and unique opportunities for learning. According to the website for Kent State’s Office of Institutional Advancement, the College of Nursing has a network of more than 12,000 alumni.

The School of Nursing’s success has brought a number of students from the corners of the United States and the world. Sara Euler, a junior nursing major, came all the way from Northborough, Massachusetts, just for the nursing program.

“I was originally looking for schools in Boston, but they were just too expensive,” Euler said. “I also looked at other smaller schools around the country, but I never got that ‘feeling.’” 

Kent State’s Simulation Lab–a lab that creates mock scenarios for students to experience realistic nursing settings like hearing a patient’s heartbeat or taking blood pressure readings–was one of the deciding factors for that made Euler choose Kent State. The university’s ranking for being amongst the top nursing schools was also a factor that contributed to her decision to come to Ohio.

Challenging curriculum and the admittance process

However, admittance into Kent State alone is not the most difficult part of the nursing program. The curriculum is not only challenging, but students have to apply in order to advance within the program.

“(The application) is based off your cumulative and science GPA,” Euler said. “In the summer is when you apply for the fall semester to get in, and the end of the first semester is when you apply for the spring semester.”

Euler recalls there were 350-400 people in the pre-nursing major at the beginning of her freshman year. However, only around 110 students are accepted each semester.

Sharon Cunningham, manager of communications and marketing for the College of Nursing, said students are first admitted to the university as pre-nursing. Once they achieve 30 credit hours and complete their four required science courses, they can apply to the nursing college and move forward in the nursing sequence.

Susan Carter, a senior nursing major, also noted how difficult admission into the program is.

“The program is pretty competitive to get into. There is an application process but I don’t remember all those details. That was three to four years ago,” she said.

Carter also said that there are a set number of seats in the program, so cuts depend on how many apply.

The number of applicants varies by the year and class size, Cunningham said, but the amount of students accepted stays fairly level.

“Our acceptance rate is fairly consistent,” Cunningham said. “The acceptance rate in the fall is typically between 60-65 percent, while the spring is typically between 75-85 percent.”

Recognition and real world practice attract students

Despite the competitiveness, Carter, much like Euler, came to Kent State because of how the School of Nursing is recognized.

“What set Kent apart from (other colleges) was the prestige that came with its name,” said Carter, a Maryland native.

Among those accolades is the college’s BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program being named “Top 50 Best Value BSN” by ValueColleges.com and their online RN-to-BSN program being ranked “Top 50 Best Value RN to BSN Program” by the same website.

Kent State’s close connections with local hospitals allow students to practice their skills in a clinical setting. The college is partners with world-renowned hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Akron Children’s Hospital.

“The diversity of our clinical experiences is amazing,” Cunningham. “Students are seeing all sorts of situations and experiences. It makes them insightful, smart and ready for leadership.”

Growth in diversity

The nursing program’s achievements and recognitions have attracted a wide variety of students to the college. While nursing has been a field that has been traditionally filled by white females, diversity in the school has grown significantly in recent years due to the field becoming more popular to all individuals.

“Our enrollment of underrepresented minorities has remained fairly stable at just under 16 percent and it’s stayed between 13-16 percent for the last several years,” Cunningham said. “Our international population is fairly small at the undergraduate level, but is increasing steadily.”

The College of Nursing’s male population is currently just under 15 percent, which has remained fairly stable in the last several years.

Andrew Cozzoli, a sophomore pre-nursing major, said that being a male in a traditionally female-dominated major is a fairly interesting experience.

“A lot of the stuff we’re taught in the classroom is new toward our generation,” Cozzoli said.

Stereotypes about nursing being a feminine profession have created a stigma for men going into nursing. However, Cozzoli added that those negative ideas are slowly changing as more men start to enter the nursing world.

“More and more guys are being introduced to nursing, you see more men in the field and that (helps) to have male stereotypes being eliminated,” Cozzoli said.

Employment abound

Regardless of where these students came from, whatever minority they fall into, or how much they stress over their curriculum, all have the same end goal: to get a job within the nursing field.

“I really came to Kent State because it is the best school for nursing in Ohio,” Cozzoli said. “If you graduate from here with a degree in nursing, you will get a job.”

The school has graduated 43 percent of Northeast Ohio’s nursing workforce. As for what specific field graduates go into, Cunningham said that normally graduates pursue standard RN work in an area of their interest. However, just like any job, many graduates find jobs that aren’t necessarily their first choice to go into.

“I know someone that went into the Intensive Care Unit, which is sometimes rare for a student just getting out of school,” Euler said.

Euler also added that the hospitals and job openings are a key factor in the search for a job. She said that many people want to go into divisions like oncology, pediatrics or surgery, but in some cases it takes some time to get to places that everyone wants a job in.

Carter listed some of the potential careers and added that nurses don’t always focus on working with sick individuals or in a hospital setting. Schools and nonprofits employ nurses in order to educate their publics, she said.

“There’s more push for health care to focus on primary prevention, which is educating people before illness or disease starts,” Carter said.

Shane Beneke is the health reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]