the Goshen College Bulletin | Alumni magazine since 1956
Photo of Rachel Lapp About this issue:

The art - and bachelor of science degree - of nursing

Goshen College’s Department of Nursing is distinguished as the first baccalaureate nursing program in the State of Indiana, now celebrating 50 years and more than 1,600 graduates. Today, around 600 college and universities offer a bachelor’s degree and post-graduate programs in nursing.

Innovative in its initiation, nursing education at Goshen College five decades since its inception is creative still. Goshen graduates are prepared to provide culturally sensitive care and leadership, to promote critical thinking and good communication as they learn about patients, consult with colleagues, understand treatment options and technologies and, very often, balance a high patient load.

Nursing is an active, humanistic art – some professionals, educators and theorists have embraced the term “dance” to describe it – and nursing educators must provide students with a complex set of skills to master it. In a baccalaureate program, this can happen. At Goshen, it happens exceptionally well, according to the department’s recent 10-year accreditation report of the nursing program by Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (read more in this issue).

The impact of Goshen’s 1,627 nursing graduates is beyond calculation. Consider the number of patients who have come into the care of each nurse – in an ever-increasing number of specialized areas and diverse settings from the office of a family physician to a community health fair, from a hospital cardiac unit to an elementary school, from an urban research project to a rural birthing center, from a U.S. state health department to a nursing college in India. Then consider those patients’ families, churches, neighbors, communities and countries: the potential influence is enormous for empowerment for self-care, sharing of information and making a positive impact on regional populations.

With an increasingly culturally diverse population, an aging baby boomer generation and highly technology-driven health services, the United States needs nurses schooled in the art and science of their profession more than ever. We need them to practice their “humanistic art’ – a practice that is holistic and attends to the person as well as his/her response to disease.

According to American Hospital Association’s “TrendWatch,” more than 100,000 nurses are needed to fill vacancies at our nation’s hospitals. Today, fully 75 percent of all hospital vacancies are for nurses. A study by Dr. Peter Buerhaus and colleagues published in the Journal of the American Medical Association three years ago revealed that the U.S. will experience a 20 percent shortage in the number of nurses needed in our nation’s health care system by the year 2020.

At the same time, nursing education programs across the country, including Goshen’s, have experienced a decline in recent years. Significant efforts have been underway to reverse that trend, partnering colleges and universities with medical facilities and even governmental agencies and businesses that have a vested interest in meeting the nation’s healthcare needs. We can help, too, by encouraging both traditional-age college-bound students and adults among us interested in a career change or in furthering nursing training who have relevant gifts to consider a B.S.N. Celebrate 50 years of excellence in the art of nursing by understanding its importance to the future of us all.


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