The Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program is just one-year-old, but this academic year promises to be another milestone: the first cohort of majors is due to graduate in May 2017. A lot of work goes into developing and writing a brand new curriculum, hiring appropriate faculty, creating lab space, and securing clinical experience opportunities for students. In spite of the challenges of being a “start-up,” AMU’s nursing program has already landed some significant milestones. Besides meeting all of the requirements set by the Florida Board of Nursing, AMU’s B.S.N. program is the first one in Collier County, and also the only Catholic nursing program in all of Southwest Florida.
“Our students stand out in the clinical setting,” Dr. Denise McNulty, founder and director of the program says. She means it quite literally: AMU’s program is one of the few in the area that requires students to wear a white uniform. “Many patients and staff have made comments that our students stand out and look so professional in their white uniforms,” she goes on to explain. “We want our nursing students to look like nursing students—and future nurses!”
Denise McNulty, DNP, MSN, RN-BC, ARNP, not only oversees the program’s operations, but she also teaches a number of the courses. McNulty developed a nursing model of healing for AMU’s program inspired by Mother Teresa’s words about faith, love and service. She describes the experience of opening a new program—from the drafting of a proposal for the Board of Trustees to the acceptance of a second cohort of students—as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Over the past year, what have our nursing students been up to?
The first cohort of students, who came into the program as juniors, began their clinical training at local hospitals and healthcare agencies. They were accompanied by clinical instructors who are also currently practicing nurses—something not all nursing programs can boast, and a unique advantage for our students. Our nursing students also began attending the local Collier County Nurses dinner meetings, which afford many opportunities for the students to meet and network with nurse leaders and staff nurses in the area. Another project the students worked on this past year was a class on Diabetes, which they presented to seniors at the Golden Gate Community Center in Naples.
This year, while the second cohort of eight new students is starting on their clinical training, the first cohort is finishing senior year and preparing for graduation, a step that will make them eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination.
Nursing student Michelle O’Loughlin, who is preparing to graduate in May, reflects on her experience thus far and offers an insight into what sets AMU’s B.S.N. program apart from other programs: “The nursing program has helped me learn not only the science of nursing, but also the art. While the science is taught exceptionally here, it is also taught well elsewhere. However, here at Ave, we also learn the art of nursing, which unlike the science, includes both the therapeutic element and the caring element. I now understand the difference between having a job as a nurse and being one. Being a nurse involves treating the whole human being—both soul and body. Love your patients and you will begin to see Christ in all of them. My favorite part of the nursing program is the people to whom I bring healing. I am empowered to do so by this program, which has trained me both as a professional and a person.”
By Sarah Blanchard