By Megan Cavanaugh
After an extensive 18-month process, Bethany Lutheran College’s Nursing program has been accepted at all stages, enabling first classes to begin fall 2017.
Sara Traylor, director of nursing, worked on the program, with phase two approved October 2015. For this initiative, Traylor had to submit a three-inch thick binder entailing clinical sites, clinical agreements, syllabi for all the courses, skeletons for what the program will look like, etc.
This process took Traylor nine months and Bethany’s nursing program was approved by the Minnesota Board of Nursing on Aug. 4.
Traylor is now working more in depth on the courses, making assignments, writing tests, finalizing the nursing major application, etc.
Bethany is in the process of hiring another professor for the nursing program.
Everyone involved is doing his or her part in the plan. Even potential nursing students are gearing up by taking preliminary nursing courses. By spring students will be able to apply for the Nursing major.
“It means everything to me that the program got accepted because I was scared that I was going to have to leave this environment here at Bethany, which is where I want to be,” junior Meagan Sons said. “Now that it got accepted, I’m so excited to stay and be with all of these people that I’ve been in school with, expanding Bethany and making it better.”
Sophomore Liz Markell is equally excited.
“I have always known I wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I was thrilled to learn that Bethany would be starting a Nursing program. This means that I can attend a small Christ centered school like Bethany and earn the degree I have always dreamed of.”
There is very specific criteria for the application process Traylor said.
“When you’re in nursing you’re dealing with human life, so you really have to be on top of your game,” Traylor said. “We want to make sure that students coming into the program are already showing high ability with time management and keep on top of their studies.”
There is a minimum GPA that one will need to meet, but Traylor explained that if everyone else applying has significantly higher GPA, they will get placed ahead of a lower GPA.
“I project at some point there will be people turned away, but at least for the first three or four cohorts there won’t be too much competition,” Traylor said.
Potential students have to know they want to go into nursing because the curriculum is structured so that if students choose a different path they may have to stay another year.
Nevertheless, after a student completes preliminary courses, applies for the program and completes essential nursing courses, a student will have to conduct a period of clinicals.
The clinicals will be at hospitals, clinics and nursing homes between New Ulm, Belle Plaine, Mankato and Waseca.
“I want to keep them in this area as much as possible for the vision I have for this program as well as training students [with the mindset] that you [will be] a nurse whether you work in a rural setting or at the hospital down the street,” Traylor said. “There is going to be a lot of clinical experiences.”
Sons is particularly content with Traylor’s choices on clinical locations.
“I am happy that Sara chose rural environments for us to work in because it’s my goal to go back and work close to my hometown and work with people that I see on a daily basis, people that you can make those individual connections with,” she said.
Markell is from Waseca and looks forward to working in the area as well.
Although junior Isabella Stevens is not from the area, she is sure she will enjoy the clinical experience.
“Since I haven’t done a clinical I don’t know what will fit me best,” Stevens said. “I am eager to try things out. I think somewhere like Mayo will be a good fit for me.”
It is necessary, Traylor said, that Bethany obtain a nursing program because the nursing profession will see a significant shortage of nurses [due to the Baby Boomer generation retiring].
With so many waiting lists, programs can’t expand.
“We need a program to fill those spots,” she said. “That’s where we come in. Plus, Bethany is unique in that the goal is to really bring in the caring, servant-leadership piece that you aren’t going to find in other programs.”
Markell said nursing is an excellent match with Bethany’s Christian focus. Nurses are caring and help perform God’s work with their hands, hearts, and minds.
“Nursing has a substantial scientific base, but it more than that,” Markell said. “Nursing is also an art. Nursing is all about helping people. I have heard that ‘medicine is the most artistic of all the sciences and the most scientific of all the arts.’”
Traylor is excited to be able to teach these ‘caring’ students about nursing and about people. “That’s one thing that I think lacks in a number of nurses, they forget the individual caring-for-the-patient piece,” said Traylor. “I’m ready and I know students are too.”