SHAWNEE—The shortage of nurses in Oklahoma can, in many ways, be traced to a lack of nursing educators. There are simply not enough teachers to meet the demand of nurses needed.
To address this problem, Oklahoma Baptist University’s Graduate School has developed a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program designed to equip future nurse educators. The program has received a $2.5 million donation directed to scholarships, faculty and operating funds.
One of the unique features of the program is a 12-week clinical course that requires the student to observe nursing faculty in the classroom and provides opportunity for the student to teach as well. The program also approaches the subject from a Christian perspective. One of the distinctives of Christian nursing, says Claudine Dickey, former Dean of the OBU Nursing School and one of the formative minds behind the MSN program, is that the Christian views all patients as created in the image of God. As a result, the program, Dickey says, aims to create a culture in which all individuals are treated as fellow image-bearers of God. This means that the student’s relationship with other students and faculty is one of mutual respect.
A recent graduate of the program, Dawn Westbrook, says Christian nurses are also compelled to view the patient as “more than a set of medical problems.” Rather, Westbrook believes, the patient has emotional and spiritual dimensions that must be addressed and tended to. This might involve praying with patients.
Dean of the School of Nursing, Lana Bolhouse, says that the MSN program is cognizant of OBU’s broader mission which includes pursuing academic excellence, faith integration, engaging a diverse world and living to the full extent the high calling of God in Christ. There are also ethics courses that grapple with the complexity of issues faced in the health field from a Christian framework. Bolhouse admits that spirituality is simply one of the issues that the nurse must address.
OBU’s Graduate School is located in downtown Oklahoma City, making it “very conducive to students because many of them work at hospitals in Oklahoma City,” Bolhouse said. Students are also provided a meal on their arrival to their evening classes, which gives them an opportunity to fellowship with others in the program.
The entire program usually takes 18 months to complete, and the first cohort graduated on March 6. Currently, the program offers a nursing education track, but plans to expand tracks, possibly creating a global nursing track as well as a nursing administrative track. The program offers 12 scholarships and maintains small cohorts that do not exceed 15 students.
The OBU Graduate School is located at 111 N. Harrison. Deadline for enrollment is June 18. More information about the Graduate School can be found at www.okbu.edu/graduate, or by calling 405/272-1656. The graduate program also offers a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.