June 29-July 3 marks the final week of instruction at MacMurray College, which announced its closure after 174 years in late March. Most traditional 4-year students completed the spring semester remotely in early May. The college’s renowned nursing program has continued online courses to graduate a cohort of candidates seeking to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees to join its final Class of 2020.
Professor of Nursing and one of the original professors in the BSN nursing program, Jill Parsons, says the final week has been routine with final deadlines, testing, and grading for students in the all-online program. Parsons says its bittersweet that she got to teach one of the first BSN classes and now one of the final classes at the college. “Of course, it’s sad. The RN to BSN program at MacMurray College saw its first graduating class in 2013, and we have had more than 70 graduates come from the program. We filled a need that the community had. We partnered with Passavant Hospital and other institutions; and we were able to fill that need. Hopefully other colleges will be able to come in and fill the gap with our departure.”
Parsons says its a huge spot to fill in the community as MacMurray has regularly been one of the top nursing programs in the state. “Many of the graduates from the RN to BSN program have continued their education. Many of them now have Master’s Degrees in Nursing. They are in leadership roles at the hospital. Two of our graduates from our RN to BSN program actually became faculty here at MacMurray College, including Program Director Angela Pierson. The RN to BSN program was not only able to help the hospitals, but it was almost as if we were growing our own, which is something that you hear a lot about in higher education. I think the students that went through the program benefited from the program, their leadership skills were enhanced, they left with a greater understanding of the healthcare system, evidence-based practice, and everything necessary for the profession.”
Parsons says that the final group of students are looking forward to getting into their jobs. Parsons says that she has already found future employment with the RN to BSN program at McKendree University, which she will start work in their graduate and undergraduate program in the Fall. Parsons says she was fortunate to have been a part of the program’s early development when it was starting under the direction of Dr. Jo Ellen Brannan in 2012.