By Gabriella Klopfenstein ’22
COVID-19 challenged students all over the country, but the Goshen College Family Nurse Practitioner graduate students all passed their certification exam on the first attempt.
“Our 100 percent first-time board certification pass rate is a huge accomplishment, especially in a pandemic year,” said Ruth Stoltzfus, the director of the graduate program in nursing. “I am extremely proud of what they, as individuals, accomplished. And I am proud of what we, as a program, were able to accomplish. Without compromising their education, the competencies were met and then some.”
When the pandemic began in March, the 16 students that were in the 11th cohort of this program still had a couple months of work and school to finish before graduating in April.
These students were finishing up their 48 class credits and 672 clock hours of clinical experience all while they continued to work their paying jobs as registered nurses. As the amount of patients in the hospital began to rise, they were called to work extra shifts — sometimes working 16-hour shifts on the front lines, caring for COVID-19 patients.
Even through all of the stress, long days and exhaustion, all of the 2020 graduates passed their certification exam with flying colors.
The 2020 graduates experienced different circumstances than any other class, including not being able to have a graduation ceremony.
“I am very sad that we were unable to give them a personal and formal acknowledgement at graduation,” said Stoltzfus. “But a lot of my students sent me some really sweet videos of their family members hooding them at home.”
There have been about 160 students who have graduated from this program since it began in 2007, and currently, approximately 50 are in the program, coming from all over northern Indiana and southern Michigan to attend classes once a week.
While some students travel two or even three hours to attend weekly classes, they all complete their clinicals close to where they live. “It is important that the students are doing clinicals where they are going to get a job,” Stoltzfus said, noting that the program works to accommodate students as much as possible. “Being a smaller program, we are able to individualize things and work with students where they are at, and make sure their learning isn’t compromised.”
Goshen was recently ranked second among the Best Nursing Master’s Degree Schools in Indiana by Nursing Degree Search, and fourth among “Best Nurse Practitioner Degree Programs” nationally by Intelligent.com.