New School of Nursing launches this fall

New School of Nursing launches this fall

Photo by Peri McIntosh

This fall Lee launched its new nursing program.

The idea of beginning a Bachelor of Science degree for nursing began nearly 30 years ago and was re-visited after the opening of the Science and Math Complex in 2009.

A feasibility task was assembled, who then took their data to Lee's Board of Directors, followed by the Tennessee Board of Nursing and the Southern Association of Accreditation, which garnered approval from both.

While seeking approval for the new program, Sara Campbell was hired as the director of the nursing program and is now dean of the School of Nursing.

Currently the program has two professors on staff. Beth Ann Gist and Vanessa Phipps are both assistant professors for the School of Nursing.

"We may hire one [professor] in the spring, but we are definitely down to hire three in the fall," Campbell said.

The first two classes began this semester, including Concepts in Professional Practice and a competency lab and seminar.

When discussing the nursing classes currently offered at Lee, Campbell said, "The Concepts class introduces [students] to the profession of nursing, it's the basic foundation of the practice of nursing.'

Campbell described the competency lab course as a combination of spiritual and cultural assessments along with practicing concept math and communication skills.

In the coming spring semester, two more classes will be added. Over the next three years, the department will continue the trend of adding classes each semester until the 124-hour program is complete.

For now, the five sections are being held in the basement of the Monument Building, a downtown Cleveland building recently purchased by Lee as well as the auditorium of the Dixon Center and in the Science and Math Complex. However, a nursing building is part of Lee's plan for the program's future.

"We'd love to have [a building] by next year, but it may be two," Gist said. "We're excited about that.'

This year there are 123 students enrolled in the program. For many incoming freshmen, the launch came just in time.

"I love the vibe of Lee,' Lee freshman Hollis Wiseman said, "[The fact that there was not a nursing program] was the reason I wasn't going to [go to] Lee in the first place."

Due to the competitive nature of nursing programs, nursing students enter into the system as either full, provisional, or pending nursing majors.

"[Provisional entries] may have been a student that had some bumps along the way," said Campbell, "Many of those will probably become full."

Those students who are pending are deemed less competitive than the others. They enter the program as nursing majors and are advised as such, but ultimately, based on their performances, only some will make it to full student status, Campbell said.

There are two possible degree tracks for this major. The first guides freshman and transfer student all the way through a four-year plan, which earns them a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

The second option is for a Registered Nurse [RN], who is already equipped with an associate's degree to come and finish their degree with a Bachelor of Science in nursing [BSN].

To Campbell, the RN to BSN track is important to a student's future and to that of their patients.

"The research shows that the outcomes for patients are better when [nurses with bachelor's degrees] take care of them,' Campbell said. RNs with four-year degrees are paid more and the probability of being promoted to positions of leadership is greater.

The School of Nursing at Lee, is unique in its keeping with an intentional inclusion of the Christian worldview in its course of study.

Sophomore and transfer student Hannah Olsen, who wants to spend her future doing medical mission work, applauds this aspect of the program.

"The goal is to be missional and to be a nurse who takes care of their patients not just physically and emotionally but spiritually too, Olsen said.

"At Lee it's so much more natural, since nursing is a profession of compassion and caring," Phipps said. "I think it impacts the student and ultimately it has a more positive affect on them as a professional and on the patient and the patient's family when the nurse has been trained in a Christian environment.'

In that same spirit, the nursing program will team up with the theology department to teach an Ethics in Nursing course.

"There are a lot of issues that come up in nursing that we want to make students think about," Gist said.

The theology department is not the only other discipline our newest school plans to work with. Campbell suggested that there was a lot of opportunity to team up with many other departments, naming the science and math departments as well as the theater department, as ones the nursing program could potentially partner with.

"I hope that we will interact with other disciplines," Phipps said, "but our main focus is getting the program off the ground."

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