Loyola University Chicago and Orbis Education recently commemorated the successful launch of a new, hybrid Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program during the grand opening of the university’s state-of-the-art nursing facility located in Downers Grove, IL.
Loyola has graduated students from its 16-month ABSN program for over 25 years. Now in partnership with Orbis Education, Loyola offers a hybrid ABSN program to meet the diverse scheduling needs and learning preferences of today’s students. Classes began in January 2018 for the inaugural class of 34 students.
Loyola’s hybrid program features the same accredited nursing curriculum as Loyola’s on-campus version but relies on an interactive e-Learning platform developed by Orbis to educate students on nursing fundamentals and theories. Students in the hybrid program take the foundational knowledge they learn online and turn it into quality patient care under guidance of faculty at the Downers Grove facility and top healthcare facilities across the Chicago metropolitan area.
Dr. Vicki Keough, dean of the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing at Loyola University Chicago, tells PRNewswire.com, “As we considered expanding our nursing program with Orbis Education, we realized they were a lot like us. They embraced our mission and commitment to Cura Personalis – care of the entire person. And they were intensely focused on academic quality and student outcomes.”
The Downers Grove facility is equipped and funded by Orbis Education. It includes state-of-the-art nursing labs that replicate the clinical setting and feature full-body patient simulators and contemporary hospital equipment. The labs provide a contextual learning environment where students can hone their clinical skills in a manner that will complement their clinical learning experiences in healthcare and community organizations in the local area.
To learn more about Loyola University Chicago and Orbis Education’s new partnership, visit here.
Our Nurses of the Week are the undergraduate nursing students in the Illinois State University (ISU) Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN) who are working their clinical hours in schools to help improve the lives of young people by inspiring healthy habits at an early age.
These clinical hours are being completed through MCN’s award winning pediatric and public health clinical experience called America’s Promise Schools Project. America’s Promise provides clinical experiences for 90 nursing seniors each fall, sending seven to eight students to each of the 23 sites in six schools districts across three counties in Central Illinois.
The community health initiative combines engagement and real-world training, allowing schools to receive help in teaching students how to live healthy lifestyles while nursing students gain clinical experience in a public health setting. The many projects that have been initiated across Central Illinois are focused around the core areas of oral health, obesity, and mental health. Past programs have included teaching mindfulness exercises to teach elementary students how to be kinder to each other and assisting rural high schools with their suicide prevention efforts.
MCN understands the importance of clinical hours for nursing students. Assistant Professor Carla Pohl, director of America’s Promise, tells News.IllinoisState.edu, “Not only are they getting the experience in the school, but they are seeing what community nursing looks like. The project helps the students learn what the reality is. It helps them learn what the community resources are.”
America’s Promise was introduced to local schools in 2011. Last year, the program received the Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), recognizing the outstanding work of AACN schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change.
To learn more about MCN’s America’s Promise Schools Project to inspire healthy habits for children, visit here.
Illinois Wesleyan University has received funding from the Illinois Board of Higher Education 2018 Nurse Educator Fellowship to encourage student-faculty collaboration and inspire student-led experiences.
The fellowship is earned by 19 applicants statewide, and awards $10,000 to each recipient in an effort to ensure the retention of well-qualified nursing faculty at institutions of higher learning. Student-led research is crucial to preparing students for success in the workplace and giving them a leg up when entering graduate programs where they have to conduct research.
Wesleyan’s School of Nursing encourages students to work with faculty on rigorous research experiences. This is not a common practice for undergraduate nursing programs, as research opportunities are typically geared toward graduate students and focused on faculty interests.
The nursing faculty at Wesleyan believe in encouraging undergraduate students to pursue research projects they’re passionate about, and to collaborate with faculty. Faculty members Ann Eckhardt and Amanda Hopkins have a passion for research, and want to further pursue that passion with their students. Hopkins tells IWU.edu, “These funds have allowed me to not only conduct research on my passion, but also to collaborate with students to fulfill their passion.”
To learn more about Illinois Wesleyan University’s nursing fellowship award intended to inspire student-faculty collaboration, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Michael Gnidovec, born and raised near Peru, Illinois, who began his nursing journey at Illinois Valley Community College. After finishing his two-year associate’s degree in nursing, Gnidovec joined the nursing workforce before going on to pursue his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, continuing to reach higher after achieving each new goal.
While working two jobs as a nurse at a nearby hospital and part-time school nurse, Gnidovec decided he wanted to do more with his nursing career and began exploring RN to BSN programs. Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing stood out to him because you can complete the online RN to BSN program in as little as one year.
Gnidovec tells News.IllinoisState.edu, “I was working two jobs, actually. I worked full-time at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Spring Valley as a medical-surgical and pediatric nurse, and I also worked part-time as a school nurse for Peru Public Schools. I was lucky — in that area of Illinois, because it is small, most employers don’t require bachelor’s degrees.”
Thanks to help and support from his professors, Gnidovec was able to work two jobs while going to school full time. Gnidovec found that the things he was learning applied directly to the work he was doing, allowing him to put his clinical work as a nurse into context. The public health course work was particularly impactful for Gnidovec as a lot of associate’s degree programs lack exposure in that area.
After completing his BSN, Gnidovec went on to earn his master’s degree in nursing with a clinical nurse leader focus from Rush University. He also recently started St. Francis Medical Center College of Nursing’s post-master’s certificate in adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist. However, he’s not stopping there. Gnidovec is now exploring Doctor of Nursing Practice programs and thinking about returning to Mennonite College of Nursing for their online DNP program.
Thankful for everything his nursing education has given him, Gnidovec tells News.IllinoisState.edu, “Having a bachelor’s degree made me marketable. The skills I learned in the RN to BSN program at Illinois State allow me to be an effective leader. I can navigate policy changes and understand the reasons behind them. I can see things from the perspective of both upper management and my peers. I appreciate evidence-based practice.”
With his master’s degree under his belt, Gnidovec currently works at Mayo Clinic as a charge nurse. To learn more about Gnidovec’s path to nursing, visit here.
Faye Lewis has overcome many challenges to achieve her dream career in nursing. Single motherhood, deaths in the family, and working multiple jobs have made her journey harder but not impossible for Faye who graduated with her BSN degree last year and recently began a doctorate in nursing program through the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing as part of her long-term goal to become a nurse practitioner.
On September 6, Lewis posted a photo to Facebook showing all of the nametags and work IDs she has proudly worn throughout her journey to a successful nursing career while working jobs to support herself and her son, AJ. The post quickly went viral, inspiring more than 100,000 shares and 4,000 comments of encouragement from across the country, almost all of them from strangers.
Lewis, 27, is currently a registered nurse (RN) working full-time on the intermediate-care unit at Memorial Medical Center. She is the youngest child of four in a working-class family from Springfield, IL. Her journey started over 10 years ago when she got her first job as a KFC crew member at 16 years old. She has also held positions as a housekeeper at an assisted-living center, nursing assistant, licensed practical nurse, and now registered nurse.
Lewis says she initially posted the photo of her job badges to help encourage herself. She tells the State Journal-Register, “I was having a rough day. It was the second week of grad school. So the response that the post received was very shocking to me.” Looking at all that she overcome gives her the motivation to keep going. Lewis has faced many challenges along the way from becoming a single parent at age 20 to the loss of her father and three other family members in a house fire in 2013.
Through it all, she remembers her lifelong dream to become a nurse and continues to find a way to pursue that passion. After beginning her career as a CNA, Lewis worked her way up through an LPN program, associate’s degree in nursing, and finally her bachelor’s degree in nursing which she completed in 2016 through Benedictine University.
Lewis admits it hasn’t been easy to be an employee, student, and mother at the same time, but she has had much-needed help throughout her journey from family and colleagues. Cathy Steckel, director of nursing operations at Memorial Medical Center, tells SJ-R.com, “Her story certainly speaks to the passion she has for nursing. She’s an integral part of a great nursing team at Memorial.”
Now on a path to becoming a nurse practitioner, Lewis is on track to finish her doctorate degree in nursing in 2021. To learn more about Faye Lewis and her inspiring career journey, visit here.
Our Nurse of the Week is Brayan Aguirre, a DACA recipient who is pursuing a nursing degree at Harper College amidst uncertainty of what the future holds for those protected by the program. Forced to work harder than most other 20-year-old college students, Aguirre spends his free time helping to support his family through a job at a nearby rehabilitation facility. He is committed to achieving his goals despite the daily uncertainty that comes with being an immigrant who wasn’t born in the US.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was enacted five years ago under the Obama administration. It’s an immigration policy allowing children brought to the United States illegally by their parents to get temporary reprieve from deportation and receive permission to work, study, and obtain a driver’s license. Recipients must have arrived in the US before the age of 16, have a clean criminal record, and be enrolled in high school, college, or the military.
Aguirre’s family moved to Arlington Heights, IL from Durango, Mexico when he was just eight years old and he has never been back to visit. After living in daily fear of the unknown, many of Aguirre’s fears subsided when DACA was created. Being approved for the program meant he could get a job that didn’t pay cash under the table, that he could legally drive to work, and that he could finally hope for a better future in which he didn’t have to live in fear of an unexpected immigration raid.
For most of his life, Aguirre felt that he was at a disadvantage and that planning for the future was a waste of time. But after being approved as a DACA beneficiary, he was accepted into a selective medical chemistry class which confirmed his decision to pursue a career in healthcare. He also explains his family’s support for his career choice in an interview with GoForward.HarperCollege.edu:
“My mom had always pushed me to have an interest in medicine because I had group B streptococcal meningitis as a baby and almost died. The medical profession saved my life, and increasing access to better health care was one of the big reasons my parents moved here. I started to feel like I wanted to give back somehow. I want to take care of people and hopefully have a positive impact on people’s lives.”
DACA beneficiaries don’t qualify for financial aid, so Aguirre set his sights on Harper, an affordable college option thanks to privately funded scholarships that eased the financial burden of pursuing a nursing degree. Aguirre first set out to earn his licensed practical nurse certificate, and he is now finishing prerequisites for a bridge program to a registered nurse degree which he hopes to begin in the spring.
Following an announcement in early September that DACA will be phased out over the next six months, the cloud of uncertainty that Aguirre grew up under has now resurfaced. However, for the time being he has no plans to change course on his path to a career in nursing. He has sought support through a group for Harper DACA students and begun sharing his story to help others understand the benefits and importance of the DACA program.
To learn more about the DACA program and Aguirre’s experience pursuing a nursing degree as a DACA recipient, visit here.