Hope Develops New Nursing Program
To Match College's Strengths
Posted May 7, 2001
HOLLAND -- Nursing education will continue at Hope
College even after the long-running joint program with
Calvin College ends.
Offered jointly since 1982, Hope's nursing program
will begin operating independently in 2003. The result,
according to Hope College President James E. Bultman, will
be nursing education that benefits more fully from the
college's strengths overall.
"Establishing our own program gives us the freedom
to put Hope's signature on nursing education," Bultman said.
"Hope combines excellent liberal arts education, strong
training in the sciences and an ecumenical Christian focus
that helps prepare students for service to others. At the
same time, our program is being developed with a community-
based approach to student placements and other activities
that emphasizes serving the surrounding area in tandem with
our students' education."
The transition from the joint program to the
independent one is designed to be as seamless as possible,
according to Debra Sietsema, who is the coordinator of
Hope's program and an assistant professor of nursing. The
last Hope-Calvin class will graduate in 2003, and the first
Hope-only class will graduate in 2004.
The B.S.N. program will continue with the same
number of faculty on-campus: seven-and-a-half full-time
positions. The goal will be to enroll about 32 students
In addition to having a Hope focus, the program
will also differ in allowing students to start taking
nursing courses earlier in their careers--as sophomores
instead of as juniors. According to Sietsema, the change
will not only give the students an earlier start in learning
their chosen profession, but will also better blend their
work in nursing into their ongoing Hope experience.
The college's program, according to Sietsema, will
help meet a national need. "There is a decrease in supply
and an increase in demand for nurses," she said.
She noted that an estimate published by the
"Journal of the American Medical Association" indicates that
if trends continue, within 10 years there will be a 20
percent shortfall in the registered nurse supply.
"Hope College can continue to meet the educational
needs of baccalaureate nurses to further meet the needs of
Holland, western Michigan and society at large," Sietsema
Hope and Calvin began the nursing program together
as an economical way for each school to offer nursing, since
neither deemed it feasible to start a program alone,
according to Dr. James Gentile, who is dean for the natural
sciences and the Kenneth G. Herrick Professor of Biology at
The alliance has worked, he noted, but not always
easily. For example, the 35-mile distance between the two
schools creates challenges for course scheduling and
faculty-student interaction. Distance learning technology
has eased the burden, he said, but hasn't eliminated it.
Hope and Calvin also follow different academic schedules,
with their breaks and semester ends and beginnings falling
at different times.
In addition, he said, as the program has matured
each school has seen ways to build on its own strengths yet
has been limited by the joint nature of the operation. When
Calvin decided last year to dissolve the program and try a
different tact, Hope, he said, embraced the opportunity to
do the same.
"I think it's important for a college like Hope
College to have a program that is a service-based in the
context of the Christian mission of the college," Gentile
said. "And I can think of no program more suited to service
to humanity than the health careers."
He is particularly enthused that Hope can now add
to nursing the same research-based approach to learning that
has long been the hallmark of the college's other science
"Hope College has one of the strongest programs in
science education in the nation among liberal arts
colleges," he said. "Bringing the program more fully into
the academic life of the college gives us a unique
opportunity to deliver a nursing program that will be able
to tap the strengths that our sciences have to offer."
Toward that end, the nursing program--now
headquartered in a house on 14th Street--will move into to
the new science building the college has planned. According
to Gentile, the new quarters, in addition to being state-of-
the-art technologically, will provide better opportunities
for interaction with other departments, in keeping with the
new building's cross-disciplinary focus.
"It'll be one of the premier nursing teaching
facilities in western Michigan," he said.