For three decades, Cedarville University’s School of Nursing has strived to educate nurses to use their ministry for Christ.
Karen Callan, director of nursing laboratory programs and facilities, was one of the first 30 students enrolled in the program in 1985.
“It was a big deal,” Callan said. “We were the guinea pigs, but in a good way. It was awesome.”
The vision and the mission
Callan said the work of Irene Alyn, the first director of the nursing program, was instrumental during those beginning years.
“(Dr. Alyn) had such a vision to what it could be, and God has honored that vision,” Callan said. “She was so far ahead of a lot of people. It’s just cool to see that vision, and even though it took us a few years to get to where she already was, I’m just really thankful for her.”
Alyn’s vision is still evident in the nursing program today: using nursing as a ministry for Christ.
More than just a statement, the entire Cedarville nursing program centers on this mission, said Mark Klimek, associate professor of nursing and one of the founding professors of the program.
“Educat(ing) nurses who will use nursing as a ministry for Christ (is) why we’re here,” Klimek said. “It’s why we exist.”
The program’s curriculum seeks to prepare students to be spiritual leaders in the nursing profession, Klimek said.
“If you’re (going to) educate a nurse to use nursing as a ministry for Christ,” Klimek said, “you can’t just teach them about medicine (and) about healthcare. They have to learn what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be a follower of Christ.”
The program uses 2 Peter 1:5-7 as the key verses for teaching students how to live for Christ. Students take a course each semester of the four-year program, which is based on one of the eight Christian characteristics in the verses from 2 Peter.
We want to be purposeful (in our biblical teaching),” Klimek said. “If we’re no different than Ohio State, why should we even exist? We exist because we do it according to what we believe, (according to) what the Bible says.
In addition to strong biblical teaching, the Cedarville nursing school has had excellent medical instruction from the beginning, Klimek said. The professors that teach each specific role of nursing in Cedarville’s program have experience in those roles.
“You need a specialist to teach the specialties,” Klimek said. “(The program has had) two or more specialists in each area since day one.”
The nursing program has also had a high percentage of professors teaching who hold a doctorate in their subject area. Klimek said four of the first six people hired to the program held a doctorate, and this number has only grown.
Growth has been one of the biggest changes in the nursing program throughout the last 30 years.
Klimek said the people involved in the program have increased from six faculty and 20-30 students to 23 faculty and 400- 500 students.
“It’s just getting bigger,” he said.
Callan said the program graduated 98 seniors last year.
“Even though it is so large, we’re still very family-oriented,” she said. “(Nursing is) the largest single major on campus and (has) been for many years.”
Angelina Mickle, interim dean of the School of Nursing and assistant professor, described how Cedarville has grown to accommodate the students.
“If all 110 (current freshmen nursing students) decided that they want to stick to our program, we will accommodate them, we will take care of them,” Mickle said. “Our program and our university has always supported that growth. We don’t turn students away.”
Part of that accommodation has included the construction of new buildings for the nursing program to use. Callan said the Engineering and Science Center (formerly known as the Engineering, Nursing and Science building) was built in 1992, but the program outgrew that building quickly.
“We had to be really creative in how we did things,” Callan said. “When (the Health Sciences Center) was built three years ago, it was just such a huge blessing.”
With the new buildings came new, improved technology for the program. “We have state-of-the-art simulation that is envied by a lot of schools,” she said. “For this size university we have excellent facilities.”
Klimek said the quality of technology for the program has definitely improved throughout the years.
“The things we had at the beginning are nothing like we have now as far as resources go,” he said.
According to Klimek, the early nursing program had only one mannequin and no room dedicated exclusively for use as a lab. The professors had to rearrange the room and set up class every single day.
“(Despite the challenges), we did it,” he said. “We had some of our best graduates come from those classes, which proves technology doesn’t make the program but just assists it.”
Today, the School of Nursing has nearly 30 beds in three different labs on campus.
Another huge part of the growth of the nursing program was the addition of the master’s program under the development of director Jan Conway. There are approximately 60 students currently enrolled in Cedarville’s hybrid M.S.N. program, with classes both online and on campus. The graduate program, which focuses either on global public health or on family nurse practitioner, strives to enable nurses to impact communities and take care of more people.
“We’re taking care of the masses,” Mickle said. “And that’s the future.”
Today, the Cedarville Nursing School graduates have impacted thousands of lives. The school has had over 1,800 graduates in 30 years.
Callan said, “Even though we’re in the cornfields of Ohio, we reach a lot of people.”
A map in the upstairs of the Health Sciences Center displays the areas of the world in which Cedarville nursing graduates are ministering in their profession. Alumni work in areas ranging from Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton and clinics in Africa to international schools of nursing.
Mickle said, “Knowing that I have a little piece of that (impact) kind of sprinkled over the world is exciting.”
And the nursing program plans to continue its impact.
“We have sustained 30 years of excellence,” Mickle said. “We need to plan that this will be here for another 30 years.”
Klimek said that though he doesn’t know exactly where the nursing program is headed, he knows God will lead it in some direction to impact the world for Christ.
How will we, Cedarville, lead the profession to where the leadership in nursing uses nursing as a ministry for Christ? How can we lead to develop that on an international level?” Klimek said. “We’ve been given a lot. Why should we sit just in Ohio?
Klimek said that by training nursing leaders throughout the next few years, Cedarville can make an even bigger impact.
“(Cedarville’s program can aim to) influence the entire profession,” he said. “Not just nurses, but nursing.”
And Cedarville’s School of Nursing is continuing the Christ-centered mission with which it began.
“We know what the mission is, and we’re on mission,” Klimek said. “We’ve been on mission, and God has brought the right leaders and the right faculties at just the right times for it to be where it is.”
Rebekah Erway is a sophomore English major and reporter for Cedars. She is a die-hard Disney, VeggieTales and Lord of the Rings fan, and she enjoys speaking in a British accent.