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Eastern Mennonite University expands nursing program

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Laura Yoder says Eastern Mennonite University sees nursing as a calling.
Photo courtesy Eastern Mennonite University

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the U.S. needs more than a million new nurses by 2024. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that, in 2016, nursing schools turned away more than 64,000 qualified applicants because of lack of space.

Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg has firsthand knowledge of that problem. “We always have a wait list of qualified people who are unable to get into our program,” says Associate Professor Laura Yoder.

That’s why EMU has expanded and upgraded its Lisa Haverstick Memorial Nursing Laboratory, allowing the school to admit 16 more students each academic year. The move will increase the typical graduating class for its traditional undergraduate nursing program from 48 to 64 students.

EMU, which began offering nursing degrees in 1966, provides several paths to nursing careers. They include undergraduate and master’s nursing degree programs and a doctoral program in nursing practice.

The university sees nursing as a calling. “We are a Christian university, so we do have a philosophy of nursing that we call the sacred covenant model for nursing,” Yoder says.

EMU considers the nurse-patient relationship “something that’s sacred and holy, built on trust and respect. The nurse, in practicing nursing, is responding to a call, a sacred call … Students don’t need to be Christian to be at EMU, but we always invite students to think about how their faith impacts what they are doing as a nurse, how they do nursing,” Yoder says.

“Beyond that, we’re very concerned about values and what it means to think about the common good, and doing health care in a way that serves those who are in need and have difficulty accessing care. Many EMU nursing students serve low-income patients, refugees and immigrants, Yoder says.

EMU strives for a sacred covenant relationship between faculty and students as well as graduates and their patients, Yoder says. “We want to make sure students feel like they’re well known by their professors and that they can see them as a mentor.”

The expansion and upgrades at the nursing school cost approximately $245,000, according to Kirk Shisler, the university’s vice president for advancement. He says EMU has raised more than $90,000 and expects to raise the rest by the end of this year.




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