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Sept 26, 2001

Calvin Designing Nursing Program

EDITOR'S UPDATE: The Calvin College Department of Nursing was informed on Friday, September 21, 2001 that it had been granted permission to develop a program of nursing education (step 1 in the process) by the Michigan Board of Nursing. Calvin now is scheduled for a site visit by the State Board on December 7, 2001. See below for the original July 2001 news release.

Creating a new curriculum for the Calvin College Nursing Program has been an arduous task. But the pay-off will make the hard work worthwhile.

"The curriculum that we're putting together will equip our students to provide healthcare in the 21st century," says Calvin nursing professor Mary Molewyk Doornbos (above). "But it also will benefit all the people our students will partner with as graduate nurses. We have a very strong sense that the work we're doing now will have a long-term impact."

The need for a new curriculum came about when Calvin and Hope colleges decided to end the combined Hope-Calvin Nursing Program in favor of separate programs at each institution. The first class graduated from that combined program in 1984; the last class will graduate in 2003. In between the program educated hundreds of nurses, many of whom are working in West Michigan.

"One of the main reasons for beginning the (Hope-Calvin nursing) program was that at the time neither institution felt like it could offer such a program on its own," says Calvin academic dean Mike Stob. "By most measures the program has been successful. Hope-Calvin graduates are much appreciated by local employers and the program enjoys a reputation for preparing its students well. However the program has always been a challenge to administer due to the fact that it is run jointly by two colleges. And students have had to make sacrifices too. In the early days of the program vans would shuttle back and forth between Holland and Grand Rapids for classes. Now it's a little better because we can use distance learning classrooms, but even that represents a compromise from the way both schools prefer to teach their students."

How to best teach Calvin students is what has Doornbos and her colleagues excited about the chance to shape their own Calvin curriculum.

"Last fall we started talking about this," she says, "and we began talking about our dreams for a new curriculum. Where would we like to go? We started with a mission statement and a philosophy for a Calvin College Nursing program. Those were our first two major projects. And now we're building the curriculum based on the mission and philosophy we've adopted."

At the core of the new Calvin program is this seemingly simple statement: "The Calvin College Department of Nursing, in sharing the mission of Calvin Colege, seeks to engage in professional nursing education that promotes lifelong Christian service within a caring and diverse educational community."

Calvin professor Cheryl Feenstra says that statement will inform the entire nursing curriculum.

"The new Calvin core curriculum (being introduced this fall) has these things called core virtues in it," she says. "These core virtues are a perfect fit for what we're trying to do with the new Nursing curriculum. We want service to be a core virtue for Calvin College nursing graduates."

That idea of service has practical implications for the look of the program. One of the things that will be new to the Calvin program is an increased emphasis on community-based nursing.

While Calvin nursing students will still spend plenty of time in acute care settings such as hospitals, they also will be spending time in places such as factories, schools and malls.

The Calvin College Nursing Program will have a hearing on September 19, 2001 in Lansing before the State Board of Nursing. At that time Calvin hopes to receive permission to develop a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, the groundwork having already been laid. At the end of November, or thereabouts, Calvin would have a site visit by a nurse consultant from the State Board and also would author a self-study report. In January 2002 Calvin again would meet with the State Board to ask for approval of a Calvin College Department of Nursing. Calvin also will pursue accreditation with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education which accredits baccalaureate and higher degree nursing programs only. The goal is for the first Calvin class to enter the new program in the fall of 2002 and graduate in May 2004 from a CCNE accredited program.

That's because a big part of the Calvin curriculum will be on health promotion and protection, serving people before they become ill. Calvin professors know that this is a significant trend in healthcare circles and they want the Calvin curriculum to be able to provide for that need.

"If we're going to serve people as nurses we need to be where the people are," says Feenstra. "We're going to be asking our students 'where are the people.' If we're talking about young moms and their kids, the answer might be 'at the mall.' So we'll go to the mall and set up information displays by the play area. We'll work with the schools to do health screenings. And we'll work with the neighborhood associations to meet the needs of the underserved."

The new Calvin core curriculum is big on partnerships and includes requirements for interactions with other cultures. The new Calvin Nursing Program also picks up those themes.

That's why one plan for the curriculum is to match Calvin students (a junior and a senior) with area families from other cultures. Over the course of two years the goal is for the students to make 12 visits to their partner family as together the family and the students work on health promotion and protection.

"Healthcare doesn't just take place in hospitals anymore," says Doornbos. "There's a government initiative called 'Healthy People 2010' that outlines national healthcare objectives for the American public to be acheived in the next decade. To accomplish these objectives individuals and families will need to be met in acute care settings, such as hospitals, but also outside of those settings. As we think about the (Calvin) Department of Nursing we're thinking too about our national priorities."

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Contact Phil de Haan
616-957-6475 (v)
616-957-7069 (f)