Fall semester brings new director, largest class to School of Nursing

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In the first fall since announcing an expansion of the School of Nursing, Lipscomb University has enrolled its largest class of nurses ever, said Roger Davis, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Sherri Stevens
Kim W. Smith
Connie Long
The 2010-11 school year brought 55 new nursing students to the nursing program, which is expanding over the next two years from an exclusive partnership with Vanderbilt University School of Nursing and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center to a program that includes clinical training at multiple medical facilities.
In addition, Sherri Stevens, a 10-year nursing educator and veteran Saint Thomas Hospital nurse, has been hired as the new director of education for the Lipscomb University expanded School of Nursing.
Also hired to lead the expanded school is Kim W. Smith, as the coordinator of operations, and Connie Long as administrative assistant. Sydney Clayton will continue in her existing role as assistant professor of biology and pre-clinical coordinator.
After seven years of educating student nurses through the innovative Lipscomb/Vanderbilt Nursing Partnership, Lipscomb University announced in April that its fully accredited School of Nursing would begin providing both science education and clinical training on the Lipscomb campus beginning with the graduating class of 2012.
Students in the Lipscomb/Vanderbilt Nursing Partnership had five semesters on the Lipscomb campus studying science and general education and then transitioned to Vanderbilt as the exclusive provider of clinical education for the last three semesters.
Beginning August 2011, Lipscomb student nurses will spend four semesters studying science and general education and then spend four semesters in clinical work at a number of regional health care sites including Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
The School of Nursing is now housed within the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and begins the school year with four full-time administrative staff to address the needs of student nurses from the first day of their college career.
“It’s important for student nurses to recognize themselves as a nurse from the first moment they step on campus,” said Davis. “Nursing is a challenging program and a challenging career. In order to become the best caregiver possible, student nurses need each other’s support and the support of a knowledgeable and empathetic faculty and staff.”
The expanded School of Nursing will provide community service opportunities and more clinical training options for students. Because it is now housed in the same college as pharmacy and dietetics, the school will also offer more inter-professional educational opportunities with pharmacy, nutrition and nursing students holistically learning together.
“The Lipscomb School of Nursing is firmly committed to training superior bachelor’s-level nurses, which are sorely needed in the job marketplace at this time,” said Stevens, the new director of the nursing school. “Various types of health care workers are being drawn to advance practice areas, leaving a gap in personnel to provide quality direct patient care. Lipscomb is working to make their graduates the best choice for providing patient bedside care.”
To further meet this niche in the health care market, Lipscomb plans to expand the nursing program to accept up to 100 student nurses per year, Davis said.
“According to national projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics more than one million new and replacement nurses will be needed by 2016. There is obviously a great deal of opportunity for our upcoming graduates,” said Davis.
Lipscomb’s School of Nursing is the third collegiate nursing program that new director Stevens has been involved in. She comes to Lipscomb from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn., and before that she was course coordinator and instructor at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, Tenn.
She worked from 1982 to 2000 at Saint Thomas Hospital, serving in various roles including staff nurse in the medical-surgical, intensive care and emergency departments, and nursing specialist in vascular surgery.
She has a doctorate from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and has conducted research on cardiovascular disease in women, survivors of childhood abuse and abdominal aortic surgery.
 “I am very excited that all of our new nursing staff has either nursing experience, nursing education or personal relationships with people working as nurses,” said Davis. “It is important for each of our student nurses to have mentors and leaders who understand the struggles they face in such a challenging program as well as the difficulties of the nursing profession overall.”