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How I Helped A Top Healthcare Provider To Open A Nursing School
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Last summer, I was approached by one of the best clients I’ve worked with - Baptist Health - asking to help them open a nursing school in Florida. Founded in 1955, Baptist Health is a leading healthcare provider with over 200 facilities and is ranked as the ‘most preferred’ in the Jacksonville area today.
We started with mapping out their needs and scheduling weekly meetings where our teams met and went over well-defined checklists of items that needed to be prepared for the Commission for Independent Education (CIE) application and the Board of Nursing (BON) application. We decided to submit both applications simultaneously which went a long way in shortening the duration of obtaining approval from each agency.
Both the CIE and the BON require the other agency's approval before they review the application. Having proof that we submitted the application to the other agency increases trust in a newly founded school. The process took a little over a year to obtain the approval of both agencies, which is a record time from my experience.
As I now reflect on their project, I can single out the following 7 factors that made Baptist Health’s application process a success story.
If you ensure to closely follow these steps in your application process, you can be certain to get a quick approval too.
- A Steering Committee: Creating a dedicated team of handpicked personnel to collaborate with us to complete the application on time was the most crucial success factor. A team working on your behalf will also allow you to be involved in the process without having to cut short on your other responsibilities.
Your regular involvement in the application process will help to build trust with the regulators; they want the assurance that the owner(s) will remain involved in the daily functioning of the school after they get the approval.
- A Highly Qualified Program Coordinator/ Director: Both regulating bodies, the CIE and BON, require applicants to appoint a master’s qualified program director or at least a bachelor’s in nursing for assistant nursing programs. They must have an active license in Florida with minimum 2 years of experience and at least a master's degree in nursing.
The higher the degree of the nursing program coordinator/director, the higher the chance of obtaining a swift approval. The program coordinator/director is the face of the nursing school and the person who will be in direct contact with the CIE and BON from start to finish.
- A Well-Written Curriculum: Both the CIE and BON have very specific and clear guidelines for writing nursing program curricula. The Baptist Health team followed these guidelines to the ‘T’, which led to a bulletproof curriculum that met the guidelines of both agencies. I strongly advise you to have an experienced nurse in your team who is also qualified to write an educational program curriculum and ensures to follow these guidelines diligently.
- Faculty: When it comes to faculty, there are 3 main areas that need to be fulfilled as per the law:
- Qualification: Having a list of highly qualified teaching faculty is a must for every new nursing school application. There are specific laws regarding faculty qualifications which you must comply with. For example,
The program director along with at least 50% of faculty members for a professional nursing educational program, should have a master’s degree (or higher) and they must be registered nurses.
- Student-to-Faculty Ratio: For every 12 students, you need to appoint 1 faculty member, unless the agreement between the agency, facility or organization providing clinical training allows more students, up to 18, to be directly supervised during the clinical training.
- Sufficient Staff: Select sufficient staff for all faculties as per the guidelines, including non-nursing ones like mathematics
- Campus Facilities: From lease agreement or documentation to show ownership of facilities, floorplans, proof of zoning compliance to an inspection request of the facilities, the CIE requirements have an entire section dedicated to campus facilities where teaching will take place. The BON, however, does not have this requirement.
In order for students to attend classes in person, as is the expectation from the regulators, campus facilities must be ready for inspection during the approval period, much before you start enrolling students. This alone is an indicator of the kind of budget you must have when planning to get approval for operating a nursing school.
- Financial Statements: As with any business venture, you must account for and show proof of sufficient funds. It’s highly advisable to plan your budget before getting started. While there is no magic number, the amount that you submit for approval, and consequently furnish proof of, must be available to you for at least a year of proper functioning of a nursing school after complete approvals.
Insufficient funds to operate a nursing school in Florida is the number one reason that applications get rejected. It will help you immensely if you work with a proficient CPA to help you with your finances.
- Clinical Sites: Although I list this at the very end, requirements related to clinical sites are the most crucial, and also the most stringent. Understandably, this is the main cause of application delays as securing agreements from hospitals, clinics, hospices and other healthcare facilities is a lengthy and time-consuming process.
For this reason alone, most of my clients hire a resource solely dedicated to calling probable clinical sites- often making up to a 100 calls a day. Both the CIE and BON require you to submit signed agreements with clinical sites. If these agreements expire before you obtain your approval, you will need to secure new agreements. I strongly advise you to start working on these agreements as early on in the process as possible.
Obtaining an approval for a nursing school is an exciting project with the potential to earn you big profits while you provide a much-needed service to the community. In addition to using these 7 strategies, you must also research your prospective students and state regulations before starting on this journey. With everything put together, you can be sure of a speedy approval.
As daunting a task it is, seeking approval for a private institution is achievable when you narrow your focus to the main areas that need your attention most and account for mistakes that can derail your goals.
Therefore, should you need more information regarding approvals, or to learn how to streamline your process of getting approved, I would be happy to help you anytime. Do feel free to call me or email me to get started on opening your university or college in the USA.