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New Nursing Program Approved by
Michigan State Board of Nursing

Posted December 3, 2001

HOLLAND -- The department of nursing at Hope College has received approval for its new program from the Michigan State Board of Nursing.

"We are very pleased to have received full approval from the board," said Debra Sietsema, who is chair of the department and an assistant professor of nursing. "It's both an affirmation of what we have to offer students and an essential endorsement as our students become graduates and seek careers in the field."

Although the new bachelor of science program begins this spring, nursing has a nearly 20-year history at Hope, which has offered a major jointly with Calvin College of Grand Rapids since 1982. While the cooperative arrangement has given the two schools an opportunity to pool resources, according to Sietsema each is now ready to take its own approach. The Hope-Calvin program will conclude with graduation in 2003.

Sietsema noted that the Hope bachelor of science in nursing is emphasizing service and connection to the college's hometown of Holland, and linking coursework with application. "It's just very fitting to have nursing here at Hope College when you think about the service-oriented mission that's here, the connection to the community and the college's tradition of academic excellence," she said.

The program's corresponding community-based approach is designed to help meet needs in the community while preparing the college's nursing students to serve in a variety of settings.

"In community-based nursing, we're preparing nurses to care for people's health wherever they are, whether at the hospital, school, home, work or other settings," she said. "We're looking forward to having more connection with agencies on the lakeshore, working in partnership with them as they assist a diverse range of populations."

Sietsema anticipates, for example, that through ties to the Holland Community Hospital Foundation nursing students will be matched with underserved families to help them identify their health needs and find the resources to match. On-going coursework will be integrated in a variety of ways. A student studying pharmacology might survey the medications in the home and help assure that the family members understand their safe use.

She sees the program's emphasis on service and caring as natural reflections of the college's Christian character. All students will participate in a research project, an extension of the college's traditional emphasis on research-based learning in the natural and physical sciences. In addition, every spring-semester senior will participate in a 10-week internship that will pair the student with a nurse for 20-24 hours each week for an intensive immersion in the profession.

The nursing major will require 48 credit hours to complete. The program has been structured for 32 students at each class level--sophomore, junior and senior. It will start with 27 students in January.

"We're very pleased with that number," Sietsema said. "It's more than we've ever had in the Hope contingent in the Hope-Calvin program."

The sophomore-level start gets students into nursing a year earlier than in the joint program -- a move prompted in part by student and alumni input.

"Our students wished to get involved in their professional education earlier in their education," Sietsema said. "Spreading their work across a third year will also enable them to stay more integrated with the rest of the college, which they have missed with the more condensed two- year program."

To help assure continuity, the new Hope program will run alongside the joint program for the next year-and- a-half, with the sophomores who enroll this spring graduating in May of 2004.

The approval from the state runs through 2005, and is crucial, Sietsema noted, in enabling the program's graduates to take the state licensing examination, and to attend graduate school should they choose to do so.

Next, the department will be seeking accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which accredits baccalaureate and higher degree nursing programs. The goal is to have received accreditation by the time the first class graduates.

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