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Nursing students see big changes this fall

By Sally Jongsma

Students enrolled in the health science program came back to campus to some new options this fall. The new nursing skills lab adjoining the Campus Health Center gives them a place to practice and review all of the skills they learn in their nursing courses at St. Luke's: changing linens, giving bed baths, practicing IV insertions. The students can also videotape these procedures as required for their courses. And computers in the room are equipped with software that allows them to study for their nursing board exams whenever they have the opportunity.

Hope Franken is one of the first Dordt College students to receive her nursing degree.

Hope Franken is one of the first Dordt College students to receive her nursing degree.

Building on the 1-2-1 program with St. Luke's College, Dordt College signed a new agreement with Briar Cliff University in Sioux City that is exciting for students who want to earn a BSN. Last year Briar Cliff agreed to an arrangement where Dordt College health science students could complete their BSN program in one additional year. This year Briar Cliff will be offering the additional courses needed for the BSN on Dordt's campus.

"Briar Cliff was looking for a location to offer BSN courses for nurses in this area," says Hulstein. Based on the previous relationship, they choose Dordt College. Years one through three of the program will be virtually unchanged with students spending the first year on Dordt's campus and years two and three commuting to St. Luke's. Fourth year students, who choose to complete their bachelor's degree on campus will now be able to take the additional courses needed for the BSN in the evenings during their senior year. They will need to take one additional course in the summer.

"Seniors will have to carry eighteen to nineteen credits to complete their program," says Hulstein. "There's no wiggle room, but it's very doable," she adds.

Graduates will leave with three degrees: a Dordt College bachelor's degree in health science, an associate degree in nursing with an RN license from St Luke's, and a BSN from Briar Cliff University.

Hulstein is excited about the program and hopeful that it will help lessen the nursing shortage in the area and beyond. It also provides more options for graduates. While a BSN may not make a great deal of difference for an entry staff position, nurses who might consider becoming a nurse practitioner or serving in nursing management in the future will benefit greatly.

Hulstien believes that the health science degree, with the depth of its coursework, combined with the BSN will graduate nurses who will be a valuable contribution to the nursing profession.