Ellen Fineout-Overholt PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN
ETBU is 100 years old!!! When an organization has reached its centennial, there are often expectations that certain milestones have been reached. Dr. Dub Oliver and Dr. Sherilyn Emberton are making sure this university is reaching them all. There are changes planned and in place that enhance students’ residential living and university life on the ETBU campus. Furthermore, there are new degrees that are offering students academic opportunities here at ETBU that were not available to them in the past. It is an exciting time to be at ETBU, no matter what your major!
It is also ETBU Nursing’s 20th Anniversary in 2012. We began in the fall of 1992 as a result of the hard work of Mrs. Opal Stewart, Mrs. Carroll Wilson and Dr. Cindy Weiss-Wallum, who was the first dean of nursing here at ETBU. These visionaries planted the seeds with the current president, Dr. Bob Riley, for a BSN program at ETBU. These leaders, along with the first faculty, Betty Langston, Linda Oswalt and Mrs. Wilson, were the team that God used to get the ETBU Nursing story started. Since then, over 300 graduates from 16 states have completed their education as ETBU Nursing students. In May, the largest class in ETBU Nursing history graduated and has gone on to pursue the dream of practicing as registered nurses. This fall, both our professional and pre-professional classes have grown to record numbers, which indicates to me that students are increasingly perceptive about their calling to be professional nurses and they are choosing to fulfill that call here at ETBU.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) in the Future of Nursing indicated that nurses should practice to the full extent of their licensure. ETBU Nursing graduates learn how to lead at the bedside, while providing evidence-based care that is focused on achieving holistic outcomes. As the new dean, I have had the privilege to talk with nurses from across the 20 years of ETBU Nursing graduates and each nurse has spoken to the impact of the principle they learned here – to care for the whole person: mind, body, and spirit. This, to me, is key to practicing to the fullest extent of nursing’s licensure. The IOM also charged nurses with collaboratively redesigning healthcare. Practicing based on evidence, delivering holistic care and leading at the bedside are all markers of redesign. While these are supposed to be present in the care we receive as consumers, in reality, these are the revolutionary signs that our healthcare system is being transformed, and ETBU Nurses are integral to this transformation. As our graduates encounter innovations in healthcare such as, health care homes, in which nurses work as a team with other healthcare providers to achieve optimal outcomes for patients, they understand how to lead the efforts necessary to establish sustainable change toward best practice. While others might question whether or not BSN graduates are expected to be such change agents, we here at ETBU Nursing are committed to graduating nurses who are not just providers of expert care; our graduates also have their eye on the horizon – observing the elements of healthcare that indicate that change is afoot and entering into the process well equipped to make a difference.
As I reflect on my first academic year hear at ETBU, I am so grateful for what this opportunity has afforded me. I have watched students be stretched and grow into fine examples of nurses that I would wish to care for my family. I have prayed with students through challenging times. Along with our faculty, I have mentored students to achieve what they were not sure they could achieve. I cannot think of a better place for me and my family to grow and become who God intended us to be. I am excited as I begin my second academic year with ETBU Nursing – our faculty and staff are the best around. These wonderful professionals care so deeply for our students, wanting them to succeed in every endeavor. They work tirelessly to help each student reach her/his potential as a nurse. As I look ahead, I anticipate challenge, struggle, joy and accomplishment – for our faculty, our students and all of ETBU Nursing. If you feel called to be a professional nurse, please consider ETBU as the place to fulfill that calling. If you are considering partnering with ETBU Nursing in our mission to prepare leaders for 21st century healthcare, we covet your prayers and invite you, in whatever capacity God leads you, to join ETBU Nursing as we enjoy 20 more years of excellence!