Belmont University’s Gordan E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing and Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business were lauded this week when U.S. News and World Report released its 2016 rankings of Best Graduate Schools, a tool to help prospective graduate students better understand the graduate school landscape and identify potential programs. Belmont’s Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) ranked at No. 115, up from No. 234 in the 2011 rankings, and Massey’s Part-Time MBA ranked at No. 182.
U.S. News’ part-time MBA ranking is based on average peer assessment score, the average GMAT score of students entering in fall 2014, average undergraduate GPA, work experience and the percentage of the school’s enrollment that is part time. The MSN ranking is based on similar data including average peer assessment score, average undergraduate GPA, acceptance rate, faculty resources, student-faculty ratio and research activities, among others.
In addition to its recent U.S. News ranking, Belmont’s MSN program has seen great success through the first time pass rate of graduates. For the 11th consecutive year, graduates of the MSN program for Family Nurse Practitioners have achieved a 100 percent first time pass rate on the nursing certification exam totaling 150 student graduates since 2004.
Belmont Director of College Health Science Simulation and Assistant Nursing Professor Dr. Beth Hallmark is committed to the University’s sustainability ideals as she leads the School of Nursing’s (SON) efforts to reuse and recycle simulation equipment.
In a simulation lab, students are given the opportunity to practice nursing skills in a safe environment, complete with set-ups that mimic hospitals in the Nashville area and use the same equipment students will see in their clinical rotations. Although this opportunity is an invaluable educational experience, it can be very costly.
With the popularity of nursing on the rise and Belmont’s School becoming more and more successful, Hallmark said her interest in the School’s sustainability efforts began when she started to notice the increase of nursing students and the sheer volume of supplies needed.
Simply recycling the equipment used by students wouldn’t have been adequate, since a large part of the lab is learning sterile techniques when opening equipment. To reproduce this experience for each student but cut down on cost, Hallmark decided to start the SON’s reuse program. Since simulations utilize state of the art mannequins and no contamination of supplies occurs, the reuse of simulation equipment is sanitary and safe.
Now, a number of student workers are trained to clean equipment once it has been used in a simulation. Using a detailed guide, workers re-package tools so they look the same for the next student who will open them.
Hallmark takes the SON’s program one step further by personally traveling to area hospitals and healthcare organizations to collect unused and expired supplies that would have been thrown away. Since the simulations work only on mannequins, expired equipment can provide training for nursing students. The equipment that the SON cannot use or does not need is donated to a local nonprofit, ProjectCure.
“The SON has been blessed with unbelievable facilities and thanks to Mr. Inman and grants from local organizations like the Memorial Foundation, we continue to have the best facilities; however, it is important that we are good stewards of what we have been given,” Hallmark said. “We truly believe that we are called to honor the verse in Luke that reminds us, ‘to whom much is given, much is required.’”
With the combination of the SON’s reuse program and the unused supplies collected from area organizations, Hallmark estimates than an average $40,000 is saved yearly. With this savings, Hallmark says the program is able to save budgeting for specialty items that might not have otherwise been purchased.
Belmont’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) was recently granted full accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education’s (CCNE) Board of Commissioners. The University began its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to DNP program in the fall of 2012 with 5 students. In the fall of 2013, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to DNP program was launched. In the fall of 2014, the programs together totaled 28 enrolled students.
With the first graduating class in May 2014, Belmont has seen great success with both DNP tracks. 75 percent of these graduates were invited to present their scholarly project, a required portion of their degree track, at a national meeting of nurse practitioners.
“This is yet another notable benchmark for nursing at Belmont. I am grateful for the University’s leadership and encouragement for establishing the DNP program and also want to recognize the hard work of Drs. Buckner, Wofford and Higgins and the graduate nursing faculty and staff. This accreditation award is a direct reflection of their steadfast commitment to professional excellence,” said Dean of the Health Science and Nursing College, Dr. Cathy Taylor.
The School of Nursing aims to produce nursing professionals that can assist in transforming our nation’s health care industry, said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing. With a focus on a collaborative educational environment, the School is committed to identifying needs within the industry and producing additional tracks that meet those needs.
Belmont’s Provost, Dr. Thomas Burns said, “The full accreditation of the DNP program at Belmont brings to fruition the full suite of holistic nurse training programs at Belmont. With this final piece in place, our nursing program now provides compassionate, patient-centered education to nurses across the full spectrum of practice-based nursing education and provides our students and our community with the best comprehensive nursing training program possible.”
With this granting of this accreditation, all Belmont nursing programs are fully accredited by the CCNE.
With an emphasis on experiential learning, Belmont’s School of Nursing provides students with the opportunity to participate in human simulation labs. For Nursing Instructor Sara Camp’s Adult Health II students, this meant taking part in an End of Life lab that simulated the death of a patient, with a volunteer acting as a grieving family member.
When the participating students arrived, they were aware of their patient, Lisa’s, prognosis. Equipped with her report, they were tasked with guiding Lisa and her family member through her final stages of life. As Lisa’s heart rate and pulse slowed, the volunteer family member’s questions sped up. Similar to what would occur in a hospital setting, students were responsible for providing care and comfort for the patient, while assisting the family during a particularly challenging time.
Belmont University Web and Marketing Developer Jon Blankenship participated in the simulation because of a personal connection he has to caregivers who specialize in end of life treatment. His father was recently diagnosed with end stage colon cancer and through the experience, “the one constant we have is how wonderful Dad’s nurses are to him and to us,” Blankenship said. The opportunity to contribute to the education of a nurse who could play that same role for a family in the future was what made Jon sign on. For those nurses, “there aren’t enough thanks to give,” he said.
Camp is committed to equipping students with the skills needed to care for the family system, not just the patients they are assigned. Often, nurses are expected to be experts on caring for patients in their final stages of life in a hospital, regardless of their training or comfort level. Camp said many bedside nurses aren’t confident in the end of life training they have received and because of that, are not adequate resources for new nurses to turn to. “Given that the end of life is such an important event in the life of our patients and their families, it seems irresponsible to leave this to on the job training,” she said.
Senior nursing major and simulation participant Blair Bailey would agree. “It is nice to have practiced skills in lab, prior to actually performing the skills in the hospital,” she said. “I will definitely be able to take what I learned from this simulation and take the experience into the real world as a nurse.”
In a debrief following the simulation, senior nursing major Mark Wolter, discussed the challenge of moving from a proactive treatment mentality to one that comforts the family and patient through the final stages of life. Because of Lisa’s signed DNR and DNI, once the final stages of life had come, there was no medical intervention that could be done. Instead of working to raise a heartbeat once it had dropped, the care team was responsible for ensuring the comfort and ease of both the patient and the family. “At this point in a patient’s care, you are treating everyone close to the patient, and you realize the impact that you can have as a nurse in keeping the situation as peaceful as possible,” he said.
Through this and countless other simulations included in Belmont’s program, students are given the opportunity to practice their skills through first hand experiences, preparing them for clinicals and post-graduation careers. Wolter said he is grateful for the emphasis Belmont puts on experiential learning and knows the program continues to advocate for more and more opportunities. “I’m a nail and hammer kind of learner, so that has helped me in a profound way,” he said. “The experiences I have had while at Belmont are beneficial because I have had varying experiences that I will build from in my first job and first few years as a nurse. I am thankful.”
10 Years of Perfection for Nursing Graduates
For the tenth consecutive year, graduates of the Belmont University master’s program (MSN) for Family Nurse Practitioners (FNP) have achieved a 100 percent first time pass rate on the nursing certification examination. The most recent class of 28 graduates all passed the exam on the first attempt this spring. Nationally, only 80 percent of new FNP graduates pass on the first attempt.
“This is a truly remarkable accomplishment,” said Dr. Martha Buckner, associate dean of nursing. “We are so proud of the sustained level of excellence by our students and faculty and for the leadership of program director and professor of nursing, Dr. Leslie Higgins.”
The School of Nursing began offering the Master of Science in Nursing 20 years ago, and the program has grown throughout the years to a record enrollment of 83 students this past fall. FNP graduates enjoy significant professional flexibility and marketability. Prepared to practice in a variety of settings, FNPs provide primary health care to families and individuals of all ages.