The oldest accredited naturopathic medical college in North America is growing fast. Since 2008, the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) has quadrupled their number of programs, added two additional schools, and increased enrollment by over 50%. NCNM will also implement their first undergraduate program. That’s impressive growth.
The college’s rapid expansion means a more robust student community, increased educational opportunities, and, most importantly, more lives changed through education. An enrollment increase of that size also means a swell in administrative workload. Yet, NCNM’s Registrar’s Office has only added one part-time position in the midst of this surge. How is that possible? NCNM managed its growth with Jenzabar® SONIS, a powerful yet cost effective student information system that improves efficiencies, enhances security, and simplifies tasks across campus.
Kelly Garey, Registrar, is at the center of it all. She has been with NCNM since 1996 and is intrumental in the college’s growth and transformation.
“When I first started at NCNM, we did everything on paper,” says Garey. “We slowly moved to the computer and created a FileMaker database. We used it for our registration, transcripts, and all of that.” Although the database helped the Registrar’s Office to work more efficiently, it wasn’t secure.
“I’m more efficient than ever and the student records are safe with Jenzabar SONIS.”
The National College of Natural Medicine
“I had the ability to wipe out the entire database,” says Garey. “If I hit the wrong button, I could have erased everything with a click. That always made me nervous. I accidentally deleted a student’s record once and had to rebuild it from scratch. That was not fun.”
In 2006, NCNM implemented Jenzabar SONIS and, thanks to its safeguards, Garey stopped worrying about security and data integrity. “I now know that the student information that I enter is accurate and secure,” she says. “I’m more efficient than ever and the student records are safe with Jenzabar SONIS.”
The integration of Jenzabar SONIS across NCNM’s campus has proven to be a timely and vital decision. “The school has changed a lot in the last several years,” says Garey. “We’ve grown from 400 to 630 students. We started with a single degree—naturopathic medicine. Now we have four different schools offering nine distinct degrees. Adding all of the new programs impacts my office the most. Tracking the different courses and curricula is difficult, but Jenzabar SONIS helps with that, especially with the degree audits.”
Degree audits are particularly challenging at specialized schools with lockstep curricula like NCNM. Jenzabar SONIS allows students to access their own personalized degree audit to ensure that they stay on track to graduate. Online self-service makes life easier for both the students and the Registrar’s Office. “We’ve eliminated a lot of paperwork and printed reports because students can just go into Jenzabar SONIS and get everything they need for themselves,” says Garey. “Jenzabar SONIS makes degree auditing really easy. In one day, I was able to create four new audits and update a few others as well. That used to take a lot more time and effort.”
Academic advisors at NCNM also use Jenzabar SONIS to run degree audits. Then they use the curriculum layout tool to help students determine what courses to take, ensuring they register appropriately. “Everyone is working from the same pool of data,” says Garey. “It’s hard to remember what life was like before.”
Like every school, NCNM has to be diligent with compliance, but its program complexity presents challenges. “A fourth of our students are concurrent degree students,” says Garey. “One of our biggest issues was being able to track all of that for reporting compliance. The solution is Jenzabar SONIS. I can easily determine what happened to every student that entered a program in any year with a simple report.”
The sheer number of concurrent degree students had previously made reporting to the National Student Clearinghouse difficult, until Garey talked to Jenzabar SONIS support. “We discussed it, and by the next upgrade Jenzabar SONIS supported concurrent degree submission to the Clearinghouse,” says Garey. “Jenzabar is very good about making sure that Jenzabar SONIS meets all of the compliance standards. If there is an issue, they work on it, come up with a solution, and do an upgrade. The customer service has always been excellent. I trust Jenzabar SONIS because it’s more than a product; it’s a partnership.”
“I can easily determine what happened to every student that entered a program in any year with a simple report.”
The National College of Natural Medicine
The National College of Natural Medicine, located in Portland, Oregon, is a world leader in natural medicine education, training and research. NCNM blends ancient healing wisdom with modern science through challenging programs in naturopathic medicine, classical Chinese medicine, integrative medicine research, integrative mental health, global health, and nutrition. NCNM’s natural medicine clinics and acclaimed Helfgott Research Institute are central to the student experience. NCNM will soon welcome the first cohort for their new undergraduate degree programs and Jenzabar SONIS will handle