After receiving her undergraduate degree, Ciara Parker wants to pursue a career in nursing.
Parker, of San Diego, Calif., said she received her degree from Brigham Young University in Utah and has worked for two years toward a nursing career. She said her brother was born with “severe special needs,” which meant she spent a lot of her youth in hospitals with him.
“Over the years, I knew that I wanted to do something in a health care profession,” Parker said. “I worked in a hospital in San Diego and decided that nursing was really the route I wanted to go.”
Parker said she appreciates the opportunity to “dive in” and obtain a nursing degree within a year through the accelerated program with the Creighton University College of Nursing in Grand Island.
Parker and other nursing students now have the opportunity to learn at CHI Health St. Francis thanks to a recent relocation.
Catherine Todero, dean of the Creighton University College of Nursing, said the college moved to the Grand Island hospital from Hastings, where the program was in a basement office space owned by Mary Lanning Healthcare. Due to the limited space at its previous location and the opportunities that CHI Health St. Francis provides, she said the nursing program decided to relocate to the seventh floor of the hospital.
The newly configured space features classrooms, simulation space, seating areas, study carrels, a student lounge, receptionist area and office spaces.
“Relocating our central Nebraska campus to the Grand Island community allows Creighton University to highlight our academic-clinical partnership with CHI Health and contribute to alleviating the nursing shortage in Nebraska,” said Julie Manz, assistant dean of the College of Nursing, in a news release from CHI Health.
“We look forward to establishing new relationships in the Grand Island community to best serve the health needs of the people through health promotion, disease prevention, health education and care management.”
Beth Bartlett, vice president for patient care services at CHI Health St. Francis, said the hospital is a Magnet-designated hospital, which is awarded the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center and is considered the “gold standard for nursing excellence.”
Todero said, with only 8% of hospitals in the country being considered Magnet facilities, having the College of Nursing located at CHI Health St. Francis gives Creighton students an opportunity to learn in a nationally recognized facility with “excellent personnel.”
“While we have enjoyed a very long relationship with Creighton, today, it really takes us to a higher level,” Bartlett said. “Creighton students now have the ability to have a mobile place to come and be prepared as a bachelor of science degree in nursing nurse. The students here have fabulous faculty and they will ensure that they succeed. They will pass their boards with flying colors and will be ready to join the workforce.”
The inaugural class in the relocated space has 16 students with courses beginning Monday.
Todero said the campus will admit students once a year. While the inaugural class was admitted this month, she said this will change to August starting this year. There will be two admission cycles this year only.
Nursing instructor Joely Goodman said the program offered at CHI Health St. Francis is an accelerated, rigorous program that allows students to receive their bachelor of science in nursing degree within 12 months.
“We have it divided into eight-week terms and some two- and three-week intensive courses,” she said. “The longest a student is in one class is eight weeks, so they have a very quick turnaround time. They are usually enrolled in two to three courses at a time, so they are in class two full days a week and in clinicals three full days a week. Their weeks are very busy with classes, clinicals and a quick turnaround for exams because of the short time for courses.”
Goodman said that as part of the program, students will work in a simulation lab and with real-life patients in a clinical setting. She added they also will do a variety of active learning strategies in the classroom.
“So instead of them sitting in three- and four-hour lectures, when they come to class, students have already prepared and we are doing case studies and problem-based learning activities to help them apply what they learned in order to prepare for the class session,” Goodman said.
Todero said the program at CHI Health St. Francis will allow students to pursue a different career path in nursing.
Parker said said she is intrigued by the “great reputation” of Creighton’s College of Nursing and wanted to take advantage of the opportunity.
“While it is rigorous, you get to work with some of the best. In a facility like this (CHI Health St. Francis) it is amazing what opportunities are available to us students,” Parker said. “I felt that coming to Grand Island was a good opportunity for me to expand my horizons and challenge me a little bit. So I was really excited about it and jumped at the opportunity to come out here.”
Ed Hannon, CEO of CHI Health St. Francis, said the hospital is pleased to have its partnership with Creighton University’s College of Nursing and hopes it lasts a long time.
“We all know these times are very difficult in health care and there is no greater time or need for health care workers now than there is during these COVID times and we have certainly seen that,” he said. “The need for great, compassionate health care workers is so great in our country, state and our community. But it is very critical that we have these (nursing) programs here in central Nebraska.”