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Accelerated nursing program at Portland's Concordia University to survive

Concordia University-Saint Paul (Minn.) will absorb Portland's accelerated program. But it's a different story for those in the traditional campus-based program.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The accelerated nursing program at Portland's Concordia University will survive after Concordia University-Saint Paul (Minnesota) agreed to incorporate Portland's program into its own.

Portland's Concordia University announced Monday that it will close at the end of the 2020 spring semester.

Current and future students in the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Portland's Concordia University will complete their studies in Portland, according to a spokesperson for Concordia University-Saint Paul.

Accelerated nursing students at Concordia study in a different building in Southwest Portland, about 10 miles away from the Concordia University main campus.

The agreement will result "in a seamless transfer of credits for all enrolled nursing students in the [Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing] tracks and a straightforward transition for incoming students," Concordia University-Saint Paul said in a press release.

The agreement assures the following, according to Dr. Eric LaMott, the provost and chief operating officer at Concordia-Saint Paul:

  • Accelerated nursing students will graduate on same timetable and still earn a degree from a Concordia University
  • Accelerated nursing students already admitted for future terms will have their admission decisions honored by Concordia University-Saint Paul

A spokesperson for Concordia University-Saint Paul confirmed to KGW that in addition to current and incoming students, "future students looking to go through the ABSN program can still do so in Portland."

The press release stipulates that a final agreement is subject to regulatory and accreditation approval. More details about the agreement will be released in the future.

It’s a different story for students in the two-year campus-based nursing program. Dozens of nursing students have to jump into new programs at new schools in the fall.

“It still doesn't feel real, you know. It's really the worst situation we could be in, being halfway through nursing school and having your program just shut down,” Concordia University senior Rebecca Harris said.

Harris is on a five-year track and has another year left in the nursing program. She looked forward to graduating and hitting that milestone since freshman year when she was basically guaranteed a spot in the two-year campus-based nursing program. But now she and other students are looking to other schools to take them in.

It's unlikely all 40 students in her cohort will end up together.

“We're really thankful a lot of schools in the area - other nursing programs - have been reaching out. It sounds like we're all going to end up somewhere we just don't know where it’s going to be yet,” Harris said.

“We're trying to stay together with our groups and trying to go to the same place,” her peer, Shaun Peiris, added.

Harris says traditional students can switch into the accelerated track, which is 16 months of back-to-back semesters and located at the Columbia River Campus and Southwest Barnes Road campus.

But it sounds like most of them will wind up at other schools.

Many current Concordia students and nursing program hopefuls just applied and interviewed for the traditional track last weekend.

Concordia University junior Julia Penttila is one of them. 

“Us applying on Saturday with them already knowing on Friday and still making us go through a three hour long Kaplan test and all the interviews and everything when we have exams and other things to worry about too is really hard,” Penttila said.

She finished all her general and nursing prerequisites at Concordia but now has to look at other schools, too. Her family has been helping her apply to programs and ask them to extend their deadlines since the news broke Monday. Concerned with how competitive the already tight pool is, Penttila is understandably stressed.

“This is the reason that I picked this school. It's the reason I turned down others or didn't go to WSU to cheer… it was all because of nursing. And the fact it's not even happening is what's really frustrating,” Penttila said. “It’s hard having to figure out what’s next but we'll do it.” 

A lot of students chose Concordia because of the nursing school's Freshman Advantage Program. If students meet certain expectations while taking pre-requisites they're prioritized into the two-year nursing program and essentially guaranteed a spot without having to interview or go through the application process.

MORE COVERAGE OF CONCORDIA UNIVERSITY CLOSING