The nursing program at Roxbury Community College (RCC) is facing an uncertain future. This week, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing voted to withdraw its approval of the program.
Officials said several deficiencies led to the move, including a lack of stability in academic leadership. According to the state, the school has appointed five administrators since January of 2017.
The board also cited the RCC program for not adequately preparing students to pass the national nursing exam and having an inadequate plan for quality improvement.
The board initially placed RCC's nursing program under a warning in 2017. That designation kept the school from enrolling new students. Now that the board has withdrawn its approval, the school's program will not be able to continue operating.
Students who are on track to finish their associate's degree in nursing by the end of the year will be allowed to sit for the national nursing exam. That will be about 60 people.
RCC school leadership said they were extremely disappointed by the board's decision.
"We will use this decision as an opportunity to review the structure of our nursing program, to ensure that the program continues to meet the needs of our community, and the workforce demands of the City of Boston," said a statement on the school's website.
RCC officials plan to appeal the decision, but stressed that their immediate priority is addressing the needs of the school's current nursing students. School leaders will be setting up one-on-one advising for students who will not be able to complete the program by the end of the year.
"I was heartsick when I heard of the closure," said Judith Pare, director of the division of nursing education with the Massachusetts Nurses Association. "Because we desperately need more minority nurses locally and nationally."
RCC serves a large number of low-income households and students of color. Pare added the school was one avenue for the industry to bring more diversity into the nursing pipeline, a field that is predominantly white. Pare said the loss of the program is a blow to the local community.
"The patients that they serve trust the nurses that come from their own community," said Pare. "And without that trust, the patients often don't return for care."
RCC isn't the only college to lose board approval in the last five years. The board withdrew approval for programming at The Medical Professional Institute in Malden in 2016. The school has since closed permanently.
And last May, the board withdrew approval for Quincy College's nursing program, citing low test scores and low licensing exam passage rates. Quincy College recently gained approval to reinstate its nursing curriculum, with the first class expected to return in the fall.