HUNTINGTON, IN— Huntington University is making preparations to launch a new undergraduate program in nursing. President G. Blair Dowden made the announcement today during the fall meeting of the Board of Trustees.
“Our proposed nursing program is closely tied to our Christian mission in higher education,” said Dowden. “Throughout our history, we have provided a strong liberal-arts education while preparing graduates for lives of meaningful service in teaching, ministry, and medicine, as well as business, law and other professions.”
Huntington University will seek approval for the proposed program from the Indiana State Board of Nursing. The University also will begin a national search for qualified nursing faculty to spearhead the program’s development. Dowden explained that it will be at least two years before nursing students will be admitted.
“I am very excited that we will move ahead with the development of a nursing program,” said Dr. Beth Burch, associate professor of biology. “I think that the timing is good for us, with our becoming a university in 2005 and having just recently built a new science facility.”
“I think the [bachelor of science in nursing] degree is an excellent fit for the mission of Huntington University,” Burch added. “Our students have a real desire to serve God and others. Nursing is a fine way to accomplish both of those goals.”
“We have a nursing shortage in the United States, and a number of the B.S.N. degree-granting programs have capped their admissions,” she explained. “Comments from people who work in healthcare indicated to us that the trend in hiring will be to look for more bachelor’s-educated nurses rather than those with just a diploma or even an associate’s degree, so there is a need for educating more nurses at the bachelor’s level. Huntington is able to do that in the context of a Christian worldview. I think we can provide quality, Christ-centered education for young nurses here at the beginning of the 21st century.”
Huntington University faculty approved adding a B.S.N. degree after two years of formal study. The new program was initially proposed by the Division of Natural and Mathematical Sciences in late 2003, one year after the university opened its state-of-the-art, 93,000 square foot Science Hall, the largest and most high-tech facility on campus.
Recognizing the potential impact of a nursing program, Dr. Norris Friesen, vice president and academic dean, commissioned a formal feasibility study. An internal readiness assessment was begun, and two consultants were engaged: Dr. Sagrid Eleanor Edman, professor emerita of the Bethel University Department of Nursing in St. Paul, Minn., and Dr. Norma Wood, nursing division chairwoman at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill.
Area health care providers interviewed for the study reported a shortage of qualified nurses and expected increasing demand for nurses with the breadth of education represented by the B.S.N. degree. Nurse executives interviewed in the study stressed the importance of critical thinking and decision making, which are key features of Huntington’s core curriculum in the liberal arts and proposed B.S.N. program.
The planning consultants indicated that the region would offer Huntington University nursing students ample opportunities for clinical experiences. Specialized niche experiences in rural health care, community based care, and gerontology would be particularly attractive to both nursing students and prospective employers.
Drs. Edman and Wood also found that Huntington University had a very positive academic reputation among the region’s health care providers, and that Huntington students were thought to “represent the best in ethics and service.” They indicated that hospitals and clinics would welcome nursing candidates from Huntington University.
The proposal for a nursing program at Huntington comes at a time of rapid curriculum expansion at the comprehensive Christian college. Huntington has recently added new or significantly expanded undergraduate programs in digital media arts, social work, economics and finance, political studies, sports ministry, worship leadership, and piano pedagogy. Last year, Huntington University launched a Master of Education program, its fifth masters-level degree and the first outside the Graduate School of Christian Ministries.