More to nursing graduate program than the low cost

Nursing instructor Melissa Wafer instruct people about controlling bleeding in a trauma situation. The nursing school’s graduate program recently received a ranking as one of the most affordable psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner programs in the nation. Prakriti Adhikari/The Lion’s Roar

On, the university’s nurse practitioner program in psychiatric mental health was listed as the 19th most affordable in the nation.

“What’s more important, I think to us, is that we are affordable, and we have a really good reputation in the community,” said School of Nursing Department Head Eileen Creel. “We are in a consortium with McNeese, ULL and Nicholls. We all four teach Psych Mental Health NP, and the faculty that teach them have an excellent reputation in the community.”

Creel feels this website’s listing is important but has little impact on the program’s enrollment rate.




“Yes, the fact that we’re affordable is important,” said Creel. “They wouldn’t come here just because we’re affordable. I think they come because they know our reputation for our undergrad program, our graduate program. I really think it’s more than just that we’re listed on this website.”

Creel explained how the instructor at the university is also an active practitioner within the community.

“People come to us because they know those people in the community,” said Creel. “Dr. Christy Perry is our psych mental health NP faculty who teaches those courses in cooperation with those other universities. I think they do come for price, but I think they really come because of our reputation of the faculty who are also practitioners. Dr. Perry is a psych mental health NP, and to teach it, she has to be a psych mental health NP.”

Creel believes the enrollment rate of the program is due to the reputation of the faculty such as Perry.

“I think it’s her reputation as a faculty, as a teacher, as a preceptor, and as a practitioner of psych mental health that is one of the big draws,” said Creel. “I think our program in general, the psych, the nurse educator, the family, they all have really good solid reputations.”

The Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Ann Carruth discussed the online degree program as well as the online certification for individuals who already have a Master’s degree in another field of nursing.

“One of the things this article talks about is that you only have to come to campus less than 10 times in the entire degree program and that’s what makes it attractive to a lot of our students who are working full time in the community,” said Carruth. “With the online degree, you still have to do clinicals at agencies or organizations, but we accommodate students so that they don’t have to come to campus to do all of the work that goes into getting registered.” 

Carruth, who is a Nightingale Award recipient, explained how the faculty knows the students even though it is an online course.

“Now, one of the things that’s not really reflected here that we think is very important is the fact that even though it is an online program, most of our students are regional, so we know most of our students,” said Carruth. “We have a connection with most of our students. When you’re emailing a student, or talking to a student on the phone, or doing any kind of conferencing with them or their preceptor, they are actually students that they have a relationship with. And so to me, that makes the value of the program much more significant.”

Carruth expressed the gratitude of the college to be able to teach these courses due to the rarity of qualified instructors.

“We were one of the first programs started in the state,” said Carruth. “We saw a need for that within the consortium. Really, two of the consortium members have the most students and the ability to offer the program. There are very few qualified practitioners, much less faculty. And so, McNeese and Southeastern both have full time psych faculty that coordinate all of those student experiences. The other two within the consortium have not been able to find faculty who they can hire. We think that speaks volumes because of the few practitioners that are available, we were able to recruit one of those people to come and teach with us.”

Graduate Nursing Program Coordinator Laurie Kinchen feels the university’s program also sufficiently prepares its students as reflected in the passage rates.

“Not only are we affordable and not only are we connected to the community and have students that often come back and get their graduate degree here with us, we also have a high success rate on the passage of the certification exams as well,” said Kinchen. “I think it’s all of those things that make us so great and have not only the affordability but the reputation too.”