Oct. 1 marked the opening of Spring Arbor University’s (SAU) new undergraduate nursing lab. On Homecoming Day, President Brent Ellis dedicated the Jaworski Clinical Simulation Center and Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine Service clinic on the other side of M-60.
“We’ve had nursing for a long time, but this is a unique element,” Al Kauffman, chair of the department of nursing, said. “[our previous] nursing program we had was for people who were nurses already. Now you can enter as a non-nurse.”
According to Kauffman, SAU has offered bachelor’s degree completion programs for those holding associate’s degrees since 2001. A master’s program followed in 2009, but both required a student to have at least an associate’s degree to enter the program.
Kauffman said the process to create the undergraduate program began in 2014. After creating a business plan, deciding on curriculum offerings and planning a budget, the program was required to seek approval from the Michigan Board of Nursing. The program also required approval from the academic and administrative committees at SAU, which it received last year.
Several other departments, especially in the science department, had to redesign their curriculum to be qualified to offer the necessary support knowledge for nursing majors, according to Raymond Jones, director of campus nursing. The increased rigor of the courses is meant to prepare nurses to pass the required certification exams with better scores and more knowledge.
The Michigan Board of Nursing approved the new program on May 5, allowing the university to select classes of 30 students to enter the program until two classes have
been graduated. Those two classes will then be evaluated based on a standardized test, the National Council Licensure Examination.
Jones has been involved in planning not only the educational aspects, but also new facilities that will open for the department. A portion of SAU’s Physical Plant building
has been converted to a simulation center containing lifelike practice mannequins. The center shares space with a physical therapy clinic that will be open to the public and used jointly by SAU’s physical therapy courses and the nursing department for training in therapy and safety practices.
Sophomore Jaydn Fuerst will be one of the department’s entering undergraduates for the class of 2020. She said she is most enthusiastic about the availability of the new programs and the ability to take all of her required classes at one school.
Another student entering the program is Jonathan Matwiejczyk, a 2015 graduate biology major. He said he had been searching for a job when he found out about the available
“I loved the idea of being able to return to Spring Arbor, not only for the community and it already being my home for the last five years, but also I already had great relationships I had cultivated with the professors over the years,” Matwiejczyk said.
Jessica Khoury, a sophomore transfer from Michigan State University, said she is looking forward to the hands-on clinic.
“It will be a place where mistakes will be made, but better to made in the lab than in the hospital,” Khoury said.
Fuerst also expressed excitement for the clinics. She was able to participate in simulation equipment tests last year when the program was being set up, and practiced with a specially designed mannequin.
“I helped deliver a fake baby,” Fuerst said. “It was pretty awesome.”