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ISSUE 118 VOL 14 PUBLISHED 3/18/2005

Nursing program expands

By Cate Grochala
Staff Writer

Friday, March 18, 2005

This winter, President Christopher Thomforde approved an expansion of the St. Olaf nursing program after receiving reports from two task force committees. This expansion will allow for a 20 percent increase in the number of students admitted to the program, as well as for a greater integration of nursing department course offerings for students outside the major.

High student demand and a nationwide shortage of nurses were key reasons for the expansion.

Admission to the nursing program is decided during the January of a student’s sophomore year.

Currently, 31 first-year students have indicated they will apply to the nursing program next year. There are also seven students on the waitlist for the program.

"The ability to accept more students allows us to better serve students at St. Olaf," said Rita Glazebrook, chair of the nursing department at St. Olaf and Director of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Nursing Consortium.

Another issue that the task force explored and that the department is working to fix is the relative isolation of the nursing program. Currently, there are no nursing courses with general education credits available to non-nursing majors.

Next fall, however, the department will offer a class called "Healthcare Issues," which will be open to all students. In this way, the nursing department hopes to reach out to students in other majors and to allow their faculty to interact with a greater variety of students on campus.

Additionally, the nursing program established new partnerships with hospitals in the area, which allow the department faculty to spend more time with students on campus. This creates a higher level of clinical experience for students, as they are supervised by a practicing nurse in a real-world environment and are encouraged to interact with different types of patients. "We’re looking for ways to train new nurses as well as to be cost effective," Glazebrook said.

The nursing program at St. Olaf combines its program with that of Gustavus. The two schools form the Minnesota Intercollegiate Nursing Consortium. Like St. Olaf, Gustavus has agreed to increase its program by 20 percent.

Dean and Provost of the College James May, who helped supervise the changes once a decision to retain the program had been made by President Thomforde, agrees that expanding the nursing program will benefit St. Olaf.

"I’m enthusiastic about the development of the program," May said. "It will help us educate students better and more efficiently."

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