Now more than ever there is a need for nurses. They are fighting on the frontlines every day during this time of pandemic, working long hours and playing a crucial role in an unexpectedly strained health care system.
No one imagined the current situation last year, when Grove City College decided to begin offering a Bachelors of Science in Nursing degree through the new Charles Jr. and Betty Johnson School of Nursing. But, as the College prepares to welcome its first class of degree candidates in the fall, the need to educate and train more nurses is even more clear.
Demand for the program was high before the coronavirus hit, according to Dr. Janey Roach, director of the College’s Nursing Program. The program – which is being offered in in coordination with Butler County Community College (BC3) – was originally designed for an inaugural class of ten freshmen. When five times as many prospective students as that expressed interest, the College decided to increase the class size to 24 students, and 26 acceptance letters were sent out.
“The pandemic certainly increases the need for nurses in the ICUs and ERs where the sickest patients are. In hard hit and highly populated areas, the nurses are working hard and becoming burned out from the continued stress of seeing death and sadness every day,” Roach said.
That is one reason why a faith-based program like Grove City College offers is beneficial in the field of nursing. “A faith-based nursing education program is essential, given the nature of the nurses’ role in caring for patients,” Roach said.
That need for nurses is expected to grow in the coming years and decades. By 2022, the need will increase by 19 percent and by 2025 the number of RN vacancies will surpass 1.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The Charles Jr. and Betty Johnson School of Nursing was created in response to this need and initially funded by a $1 million gift from Jayne Johnson Rathburn and the Rathburn Family Foundation in memory and honor of her parents. Betty Johnson was a nurse.
BSN students will benefit from the partnership between Grove City College and BC3, which plays to each institutions’ strengths. The first class of BSN candidates will start taking general education and pre-nursing science required courses this fall on campus.
Their core nursing classes and clinical experiences will begin through BC3’s Shaffer School of Nursing and Allied Health in the fall of 2021 and will continue through the third year of schooling, though students will still be attending classes at both institutions, with formal nursing classes and professional placement. At the end of the third year, students will have an associate degree from BC3 and may take the state nurse licensure exams. If successful, they can begin working as a registered RN as they complete their fourth year of a bachelor’s degree from Grove City College.
The Institute of Medicine and Magnet Status designation of hospitals support the need for more BSN prepared nurses, according to Roach, which the Grove City College and BC3 program will produce.
“Research has explored and found that patients cared for by BSN nurses along with staffing and patient acuity leads to better patient outcomes,” Roach said.
In response to the pandemic, BC3 transitioned their current nursing students to the online format beginning in late March. “This is necessary although not ideal when students need live clinical experiences,” Roach said. As the new batch of students will not be experiencing clinical learning until fall of 2021, “We pray that there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 available by then,” Roach said.
“God’s hand is present in the science, technology and faith that nurses use every day to heal the sick and comfort those at end of life,” Roach said. “It is a privilege to care for people and to be there from birth to death.”
For more about Nursing at Grove City College, visit www.gcc.edu/nursing.