It might not be the largest nursing and health care college in Ohio, but it’s certainly among the best.
While it’s designated as a national center of excellence by the National League of Nursing (NLN), College Factual also puts Ursuline College’s Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions in the top 5% of all programs in the state and top 10% of all programs in the U.S.
For the second year in a row, the Breen School of Nursing ranks among Ohio’s top 10 schools for undergraduate nursing education by U.S. News & World Report’s list of best colleges. The school’s dean of nursing, Patricia “Pat” Sharpnack, DNP, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN, is now the chair-elect of NLN, an organization of 40,000 plus members dedicated to excellence in nursing education and a diverse nursing workforce.
The U.S. News & World Report 2021 ranking is based on the school’s reputation among peer institutions. Perhaps the most telling statistic, however, is that Breen School of Nursing graduates have a 100% placement rate upon receiving licensure.
“With a 75-year legacy, the Breen School of Nursing and Health Professions has produced the region’s most dedicated, knowledgeable nurses, nurse practitioners and nurse leaders,” says Sharpnack. “It’s gratifying to see the efforts of our outstanding faculty, staff, students and alumni be recognized by fellow nurses in this way.
“For me, it’s also a big opportunity, and it’s very much a working position,” Sharpnack says of her recent election at the NLN. “I will serve as chair-elect, and then serve as chair for the following two years.”
U.S. News & World Report also ranked Ursuline College among the top one-third of nursing schools nationwide, as well as 56th among regional Midwest universities for upward social mobility.
“For more than 150 years, Ursuline College has been vested in helping our students fulfill their potential through women-focused education, especially those who are the first in their families to attend college, many of whom remain in the area and serve the people of Northeast Ohio,” says Sr. Christine De Vinne, president of Ursuline College.
“Obviously, the nursing shortage has been well publicized, so we really need to build an adequate workforce,” says Sharpnack. “The problem is that many nurse educators are not always compensated in the same way as nurses in critical areas of care — so there is a disparity there.”
Another important issue facing the profession is the mental health of nurses and health care workers, which is really an issue of workforce design, says Sharpnack.
“Nurses need to be able to work at the top end of their licenses — doing as much as the law allows,” she adds. “A lot of times they are not able to do that.”
Breen School of Nursing is well-positioned to address those issues, especially when it comes to recruitment of students to help fill the professional pipeline. The school recently was awarded a nursing workforce diversity grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), which will help it attract even more students to the profession.
“We have already done that very successfully,” says Sharpnack. “We’ve increased both our number of students while increasing the diversity of our student population. This new grant will help us increase that diversity even more over the next four years.”
Breen School of Nursing offers an array of programs that lead to undergraduate and graduate degrees. Some are designed to not only get students into the profession, but to do so at an accelerated pace.
“For instance, we have an accelerated nursing program, which accepts students who have graduated with another degree and then puts them on a fast-track to become nurses in just 15 months,” says Sharpnack. “Those students come from all over the country and the world. And I’m proud to say that the majority of them stay in Ohio once they come here. They love Ohio and they love Cleveland. Being a Cleveland native, I am thrilled for that to be the sentiment of our students.”
Nursing school students also receive special training that not only makes them ready to step into positions, but often allows them to move into leadership positions at an accelerated pace. In some disciplines, nurses will receive immersion training that allows them to actually experience workforce conditions.
“Being in the city of Cleveland, we have globally and nationally ranked health care institutions,” says Sharpnack. “We work very closely with our health care partners to target areas where they feel nurses will be needed.”
Those partners include world-class organizations such as the prestigious Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, MetroHealth and Cleveland’s VA Center, among others.
“They are all excellent partners,” says Sharpnack. “And they assist us in helping deliver the best nursing and healthcare education possible.”