Thursday, February 22, 2007

Step #1: Letter to the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Marquette College of Nursing

February 22, 2007

Dr. Judith Miller
Associate Dean for Graduate Programs
Marquette University College of Nursing
P. O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201

Dear Dr. Miller:

I believe that you are already aware that I was a member of the 6th cohort of the Direct-Entry program, and that I have been unable to obtain a valid nursing license in the state of Mississippi where I am currently living.

Mississippi state law regulating nurses states that one must graduate from an accredited nursing program in order to hold a license. The same is true in Wisconsin (Nurse Practice Act: 441.04) . How can the Direct-Entry program qualify people to obtain a nursing license in Wisconsin, but not in other states? When I applied to take NCLEX I filled out a "graduation statement" for the Wisconsin State Board of Regulation & Licensing. On this form my classmates and I were told by Marquette staff members to check the box for "BSN" and to list August 13, 2005 as a graduation date - yet there is no graduation date listed on my official Marquette transcript.

Either my Direct-Entry classmates and I hold BSNs with Marquette University, or we do not. It is unethical for Marquette to choose when, and to whom, it is to their advantage to provide proof of graduation. If I have earned a BSN with Marquette University then my transcript should list a graduation date so that I can obtain a license in other states. If I have not obtained a BSN from Marquette University then I should not have been eligible for a license in the state of Wisconsin, and neither should any other students who have gone through the Direct-Entry program.

When I tried to obtain a nursing license in Mississippi I was denied solely because my Marquette transcript does not contain a graduation date. I am now in repayment of over $35,000 in student loans that I took out in order to attend Marquette although I am now unable to work as a nurse. My husband is an Episcopal priest in rural Mississippi and is currently supporting our family of three on only a few thousand dollars a year more than the amount of my outstanding student loans.

Marquette University should be ashamed for engineering this loophole in the legal regulation of registered nurses for its own purposes. I would have expected a Catholic University to behave with integrity. If the issue of whether or not individuals who have completed the Direct-Entry program have earned BSNs at Marquette University is not resolved, I will be forced to take further action.


Lydia Bertrand