Calvin Takes Key Step In Nursing Program

June 21, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Department of Nursing at Calvin College has taken a major step in developing its own nursing program and is due to take another in December.

That’s when the Michigan Board of Nursing will visit the department in the school’s science building. The board last month granted permission for Calvin to develop a program of nursing education.

Most of the program already is in place because Calvin already offers a bachelor of nursing degree in a tandem program with Hope College.

And if all goes well, the board in January will grant full formal approval for Calvin to establish its nursing school as an entity separate and distinct from the joint Hope-Calvin nursing program currently in existence.

According to Mary Molewyk Doornbos, professor of nursing at Calvin, the two colleges recently decided to divorce their programs because each now is large enough to sustain itself. Together the programs have 70 students, and 40 of them are Calvin enrollees.

Doornbos explained that Hope and Calvin established the joint program in 1982 because separately neither had the facilities, the financing nor the faculty to offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

She said the joint program’s first graduates received their diplomas in 1984. The last class of the Hope-Calvin program will graduate in 2003.

Doornbos told the Business Journal that members of the Calvin classes of 2003 and 2004 — current freshmen and sophomores in the Hope-Calvin program — will hardly notice a difference. “We’re working to make this a seamless transition,” she said.

She said the school already meets the state criterion of having a maximum of 10 students per faculty member. “And we’re going to be trying to keep that ratio a bit under 10-to-one,” she said.

She said many of the courses offered jointly now will be identical under the Calvin umbrella alone.

Nonetheless, she added, in line with its particular institution-wide academic philosophy, Calvin plans to broaden the community component of its nursing curriculum.

This means each of its students will graduate not only with experience in hospital care and other institutional settings, but also care in homes and community settings.

She said Calvin nursing students, for instance, will work with the Creston and Burton Heights neighborhood associations. Meanwhile, the school is searching for a role with a third association.

Doornbos said Calvin nursing students also will become involved in conducting health promotion programs in elementary and secondary schools.

“The curriculum that we’re putting together will equip our students to provide health care in the 21st century,” Doorbos said.

“But it also will benefit all the people our students will partner with as graduate nurses. We have a very strong sense that the work we’re doing now will have a long-term impact.”

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