CCCC Addresses Challenges with Its Nursing Program

A virtual interview with Cape Cod Community College President John Cox
Dr. John Cox, President of Cape Cod Community College (CCCC photo)

Last week Cape Cod Today learned that the nursing program at Cape Cod Community College had been placed on "Approval With Warning Status" by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN).

We approached CCCC President Dr. John Cox with a request for a virtual interview to explain what happened and what the college has done to address this challenge.  

As with all CCToday virtual interviews, we present Dr. Cox's responses verbatim as submitted.  Questions and answers are presented exactly in the order they were submitted with no editing whatsoever.

Virtual Interview with Cape Cod Community College President Dr. John Cox


Q. We understand that Cape Cod Community College’s Nursing program has been placed on “Approval With Warning Status” by the Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN).  Can you tell us what happened to bring this about?

A. Earlier this year, we learned that the Board of Registration in Nursing (BORN) reviewed the College’s Nursing Program in response to a second year of decreasing pass rates for first-time testers of the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). This is the test our Nursing graduates take after graduating from the program. Historically, our pass rates are well over 80%, however, during that two year stretch, that rate fell below 80%. BORN asked the College to undertake a series of tasks to immediately improve this number.

We believe one reason our scores dropped was due to changes in the test, as well as our capacity to prepare students for these changes. In 2016, when the test experienced these changes, is around the time our College, and several other colleges in the state, experienced a drop.

Q. What has the college done to address this challenge?

A. Thanks in large part to our Nursing faculty, we acted quickly to make improvements. First, we have revised pieces of our curriculum to offer more test preparation for students and our faculty are working one-on-one to personally advise students. Second, our College has invested in offering financial aid to those graduates who can’t afford to immediately take the test after graduation. This is a significant because we know that taking the NCLEX test right away is a key indicator of success.

Q. How did the Class of 2018 do with the nursing exam?

A. Because of the changes we have made, our pass rates are already back to where they were pre-2016. 85-percent of our 90 graduates from 2018 have already taken and passed the test. This represents a 16-percent jump from last year. We are encouraged that this number may go even higher as there are still students who haven’t taken the test yet.

Q. Does this affect the work CCCC was doing to absorb students from Quincy College’s former nursing program?  If so, how have things changed there?

A. No, this hasn’t impacted our recruitment of new students into the program and has no bearing on our accreditation. Our Nursing program remains one of our College’s flagship programs.

The Nursing program at 4Cs is currently at capacity and we do not have a plan to absorb students from the Nursing Program at Quincy College.

Q. What enrollment levels has the nursing program enjoyed over each of the past five years?

A. Nursing remains one of our most popular, successful programs with full cohorts graduating every year. As a competitive program with only 112 seats (72 Day Option seats and 40 Evening/Week-End Option seats) available, it is rigorous to get accepted, but the success of our graduates in the field speaks for itself.

Q. When do you expect the “Warning Status” to be removed?

A. We are preparing our response plan report for BORN, due on September 30, 2018, at which point we will be presenting our positive change in test scores at that time. We can anticipate Fall 2019 as the timeframe for the program to achieve Approved status, based on peer institutions and industry experts we have consulted with who have gone through the same status change.

Q. How does this situation affect students currently enrolled in your nursing program or those seeking to apply?

A. The warning status itself does not impact current or prospective students. What has come of this situation is a greater focus on the College’s part to make sure our graduates have the academic and financial support they need, including preparation for the test.

Q. How is the college working to assure that something like this does not happen in the future?

A. At the end of the day, this is a learning opportunity for us. While we were certainly displeased with our test scores dipping below 80-percent for the first time in our College’s history, it was inspiring to see how quickly and efficiently we responded to make it right. With these new measures in place, we’re ensuring our students’ pass rates will remain at an exceptional level.

Q. How many students are currently enrolled in your nursing programs?

A. Currently, there are 187 students, both Freshmen and Sophomores, either Day Option or Evening/Weekend Option.  

Q. How many faculty and staff serve them?

A. In total, there are 32 full time, part time, and staff serving students in the program.

Q. After this matter is resolved, what are you hoping to achieve with the nursing program over the next five years? 

A. Over the next five years, we will be instituting our holistic admission approach, supported by the federal Nursing Workforce Diversity grant, which seeks to serve qualified students using a variety of admission metrics.

Q. Does this change in status in any way affect any of your grants or partnership with Cape Cod Healthcare?

A. No, it does not. We have shared our change of status with our partners at Cape Cod Healthcare and they remain supportive and engaged in our pursuit of status change.

Q. Why should a student consider the nursing program at CCCC versus other nursing education programs?

A. Our Nursing program is one of the most respected in the region. If you have been treated by a nurse in a Cape Cod healthcare facility, there is a great chance you have been served by a graduate of the 4Cs Nursing Program. Our faculty are world-class professionals and our curriculum is modern and prepares you for employment in a competitive field. Simply put: our Nursing graduates represent the backbone of our local healthcare system and we will continue to do great work. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on