Dordt College News

Nursing department gets new digs

August 12, 2009

No one would recognize the nursing department's new classroom as the garage of the former President's Home. The good classroom and individual learning spaces include all of the equipment needed for training.

Nursing students came back to a major change this fall.

The department’s facilities, which were scattered throughout the basement of Covenant Hall on the east side of campus, are now housed in the old President’s Home, located on the northwest corner of campus. Over the summer, maintenance staff transformed the garage into a spacious and well-equipped classroom where nursing students attend classes and practice their skills. The rest of the house was renovated to create faculty offices, seminar and meeting rooms, and study space.

“The increased sense of collegiality among the staff also affects the students,” says Dr. Pam Hulstein, the chair of the department. It makes for better teaching and learning, Hulstein says, because it stimulates conversations and exchange of ideas. Students practice health assessment skills, taking blood pressure, catheter care, use of IV tubing, and more. In class, they can move around the space from one area to another and all come back together as a class to follow up after their hands-on work.

A new campus-wide class schedule this year gives departments a designated time each Friday to meet with their majors, and the nursing department is taking advantage of that opportunity, gathering nursing students for discussions about a range of topics relevant for their education.

The demand for good nurses continues to grow, and the job outlook, although not quite what it was a couple of years ago, is good, depending on the area of the country, notes Hulstein. Although the economy has forced many hospitals to cut their staffs, the number of people who need care continues to grow, and once the economy picks up again, it will likely be catch-up time, she believes. Dordt nursing graduates have been very successful at finding jobs, which Hulstein attributes, in part, to their strong educational and clinical background.

“St. Luke’s graduates have a phenomenal first-time pass rate on state board exams,” she says. In addition, because Dordt seniors earn their R.N. following their third year and many of them have already passed their national licensure exam, they already have jobs as professional nurses before they graduate with B.S.N.s.

“Students have told us that this takes tremendous pressure off them in their last year,” says Hulstein. She believes that not having to worry about licensure as seniors also gives them the freedom to think more deeply about such things as what it means to be a Christian in nursing and how they can respond to suffering in the world.

The nursing department has several open houses planned this year for prospective students, for parents, and for members of the local community.

Nursing agreement

A newly-signed agreement with St. Luke’s College of Nursing means that students in Dordt’s nursing program are now considered full-time Dordt students for all four years. Previously they were St. Luke’s students during years two and three of the program while they were doing the bulk of their clinical work. The change means that they can participate in such activities as choir, band, theater, sports, and work-study programs, and be eligible for Dordt financial aid for all four years.


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