Skip to main content

Mayo Clinic, ASU nursing program partnership built to last

A six-year partnership between the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and the Mayo Clinic has helped address the nursing shortage in Arizona.

November 07, 2011

Strategic partnerships are like friendships. Some last and some don’t. However, an evaluation of the Mayo Clinic and ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation partnership formed six years ago shows the signs of a long-term commitment.

Teri Pipe, interim dean of the College of Nursing and Health Innovation, says that the catalyst for the partnership was the critical nursing shortage in Arizona. To address the shortage and with many well-qualified students waiting to enter, the College of Nursing and Health Innovation expanded program capacity. The partnership has the additional benefit of utilizing practicing nurses’ knowledge and skills at an optimal level, which is one of the recommendations of the latest Institute of Medicine report.

During this time, Rita Jury, then director of Clinical and Patient Education, and Vicki Buchda, former vice chair, Division of Nursing Services, Mayo Clinic, contacted Mary Killen, former associate dean for Academic Affairs, to suggest an ASU nursing site on the Mayo campus.

“They wanted to help address the shortage and at the same time provide opportunities for their masters-prepared nurses to teach” Killeen said. “This was fantastic since a major obstacle to expanding enrollment was finding qualified faculty and clinical placements. Mayo could provide both.”

The purpose of the joint nursing education program remains to increase enrollment capacity for nursing students in Arizona through the use of the combined resources and clinical strengths of both institutions. Under terms of the arrangement, ASU has provided the curriculum, clinical planning, and program oversight. Mayo provides qualified nurses who serve as faculty, classrooms, clinical learning lab facilities, and clinical experiences for students in their adult health, complex care, and clinical immersion rotations.

From the beginning, the Mayo campus cohort of 20 nursing students has been outstanding. Mayo students have demonstrated high retention and graduation rates and a 99 percent pass rate on the NCLEX licensing exam, which is well above state and national rates. In addition, the program does not require a payback obligation for students to work for Mayo following graduation but most Mayo Campus nursing graduates apply to work at Mayo. Of the most recent graduating cohort of 17, 14 applied and 12 were offered positions at Mayo.

Working closely to find solutions

Mayo Clinic in Arizona does not provide inpatient obstetric, pediatric and psychiatric services – important parts of the nursing education curriculum. However, the partners worked hard to meet faculty needs by identifying ASU faculty to teach those courses. The ASU College also works with Mayo to fill other unexpected gaps in faculty needs by drawing from its pool of qualified educators.

Bella Panchmatia was appointed as the permanent site coordinator in 2006. With previous experience at Mayo Clinical Hospital and the ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Panchmatia has proven ideally suited to coordinate the partnership. In her tenure as on-site program coordinator, she has seen 73 nursing students graduate with their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degrees with 34 graduates currently working at Mayo. Two cohorts of 20 students each are currently in session.

Panchmatia noted that continuing enhancements have made the program more comprehensive in the past six years. The opening of the Virginia Nehring Utz Nursing Clinical Skills Laboratory in 2010 and larger, more mediated classroom space that is shared with other Mayo departments represent significant program additions for the students and faculty. Now student clinical labs and simulation can be conducted on site instead of at the former nursing labs on the ASU West campus.

“The greatest rewards from my work as site coordinator are to help prepare the next generation of nurses and to be involved with them on a daily basis,” Panchmatia said.

Rita Jury, one of the partnership principals and who now works for Mayo in Wisconsin, reflects on the nursing program with pride.

“The program fused the academic excellence of ASU with the clinical strengths of Mayo,” Jury said. “Mayo faculty infused current day practice into the teaching and created a model with ASU that resulted in better care for patients.”

Students seek values

Jennifer Burkmier, a second-degree student who graduated in May and now works at Mayo, was initially attracted to the nursing program because of its16-month accelerated schedule and the privilege to study at Mayo. However, what Burkmier found there exceeded anything she could have hoped for. 

“Each instructor is a leader in their field and they provide students with the support and education needed to produce the highest quality of nursing graduates,” Burkmier said. “Small class sizes and the consistency of professors throughout the program cultivate a feeling of family that has been a critical component of my success. I can honestly say that I feel very honored to have been able to be a part of this experience and could not have received a better nursing education anywhere.”  

Teresa Connolly, chief nursing officer/chair, Division of Nursing Services, said the partnership with the ASU College of Nursing and Health Innovation has provided sustainable benefits to Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

“Students in the program are being taught by nurses practicing in the field and become educated in the Mayo culture of quality patient care,” Connolly said. “The program has helped to develop the 40 Mayo nurses who have served as adjunct faculty by providing additional opportunities to teach and adding to their job satisfaction, which helps Mayo retain them.”

Connolly believes that the Mayo Clinic – ASU model for nursing education will continue to grow in the future. “Nursing is the largest single group of care providers and will play a major role in reforming the nation’s healthcare system,” the CNO said.

“Teaching based on a shared belief in nursing education that provides the highest quality care for patients is at the heart of Mayo and ASU nursing cultures,” ASU’s Killeen added. “That is what makes this such an effective partnership."

Pipe pointed to the Mayo Clinic – ASU nursing program partnership as one of the early successes of the institutional ASU/Mayo relationship.

"Other clinical and research partnerships have grown from this first success and we have many more exciting opportunities ahead for other collaborative endeavors,” Pipe said.