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SUNY Canton’s online nursing program gains accreditation

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CANTON — SUNY Canton’s four-year online bachelor of science nursing program recently received accreditation, being ranked as the 13th most economical program of its kind nationwide by SR Education Group, an online education research group.

Most who have enrolled in the program this fall already hold nursing jobs at area hospitals and hope to advance their education to the bachelor’s degree level.

According to an August news release from the college, the program earned the five-year accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, after having been visited by the commission in February. The program had been operating under ACEN candidacy status since its creation in 2009.

“The accreditation reaffirms that our program is the right choice for our students,” said Debra M. Backus, nursing professor and program director. “We have an ideal learning environment for employed nurses looking to advance their education.”

The program, which is online only, creates an environment that is adaptable to the lifestyles of working students, allowing them to decide when and where to access and complete their class work each week.

Approximately 130 students are enrolled in the program this fall.

According to the release, most enrollees are employees in nursing at hospitals in St. Lawrence County, coming to SUNY Canton chiefly from Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, Ogdensburg, and Canton-Potsdam Hospital,.

“We get quite a few from Potsdam,” Mrs. Backus said.

Students also come from Gouverneur Hospital, Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley, Massena Memorial Hospital and Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, as well as from hospitals in New York City and on Long Island.

According to Mrs. Backus, the college helps students to develop as nurses through mentoring, and by asking them to reflect on coursework as they complete it, coursework that is directly applicable to their current jobs.

“We really encourage and push their growth,” she said. ”We want students to not only know the content but to be able to use it, to apply the information to their work setting.”

Mrs. Backus said credit for student development is due to nursing professor Peggy LaFrance, who began the program five years ago.

“Students are very impressed with the connections they make with our faculty members,” Mrs. LaFrance said, mentioning that nearly all graduates of the program pursue master’s degrees. “Their interactions help them gain insight into the larger perspective of the health care field.”

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