St. Olaf cannot in good faith eliminate the nursing department. There is increased student interest, the department has two tenured nursing faculty and our program is part of an established Minnesota Intercollegiate Nursing Consortium, which provides nursing students with the unique integration of a liberal arts education with professional nursing skills.
In a time of budget crunching and reassessment of department money St. Olaf should reinvest its money in established programs rather than sinking funds into new majors like the recently added exercise science major. St. Olaf has a history of eliminating valuable programs: first the Paracollege, then the communications department were put on the budget cutting board. Now the nursing program could be axed. What degree will be next religion?
Another reason to keep the nursing major: Minnesota is currently experiencing statewide nursing shortages. According to the 2002 Occupational Outlook Handbook registered nurses held 2.2 million jobs nationwide making nursing the largest health care occupation in the country. By 2010 it is expected that there will be 561,101 new jobs available for nurses.
Cutting the nursing major makes no sense. Practicality is an often overlooked part of a liberal arts education. It is all well and good that we receive a well-rounded education, but we need to have the appropriate skills to get a job once we leave the St. Olaf bubble.
St. Olaf should practice what it preaches. According to the schools department web site the nursing major focuses on the development of the whole person, a commitment to lifelong learning, and service to others with a holistic approach to the practice of professional nursing. All of these characteristics rally behind St. Olafs mission to create global citizens that think beyond themselves.
The nursing program embraces St. Olafs mission statements call for responsibility to the community and the world in general. Instead of giving first years a seminar on what they should do for the rest of their lives, perhaps we should think about sharing our new commitment to vocation by keeping programs that already address the topic.
St. Olaf nursing program is a valuable commodity that draws students looking to specialize in nursing while receiving a liberal arts education. Cutting the nursing program would effectively be eliminating one of our most valuable assets and would go against the mission of the college, the mission that St. Olaf touts as the way we should lead our lives.