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Calvin designs new nursing program

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Nursing student - click on photo to enlarge image
Calvin nursing students practice skills in both traditional and non-traditional settings. Students are able to work on others as well as on computer.

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 are putting together will equip our students to provide healthcare in the 21st century," said Calvin nursing professor Mary Molewyk Doornbos. "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. The goal is for the first Calvin class to enter the new program this fall and graduate in May 2004 from a CCNE accredited program. Calvin received initial approval and is now seeking accreditation from the State Board and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

"We don't anticipate any difficulty in eventually receiving accreditation," said Doornbos. "We have experience in such matters from our work on the Hope-Calvin program, and we are also using consultants who have assured us that we are right on track. We have great confidence that our first class of graduates will be from a fully accredited program."

Response to the program so far has been overwhelming.

"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," said 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."

Nursing student - click on photo to enlarge image
Calvin nursing students practice giving shots to each other.

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

"If we're going to serve people as nurses we need to be where the people are," said 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."

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. "Healthcare doesn't just take place in hospitals anymore," said Doornbos. " As we think about the (Calvin) department of nursing we're thinking too about our national priorities."

Alumni Nurses Reunion
Photos from Homecoming 2002

The Calvin Alumni Nurses Association is hosting a lunch at Seoul Garden Restaurant on April 11. Professor Karen VanderLaan will speak. Contact Kathleen Bremer for details.

Calvin Nursing Department
Faculty, programs, mission and vision, new facilities

Community Outreach Partnership Center
This program includes a partnership between the nursing department, Burton Health Clinic and Health Intervention Services

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Nurses Christian Fellowship
A ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

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