Nursing students serve in Honduras Focus on medical missions sets program apar

In 2005, Oklahoma Christian’s administration recognized the need for a nursing program to combat the nursing shortage facing the state.

The following March, OC received approval from the Oklahoma Board of Nursing to begin the process of admitting students to a nursing program that fall. Since this time, the program has prospered.

Thanks to a great deal of work from the program’s leaders and the university as a whole, an accreditation visit from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education in November 2007 led to full five-year CCNE accreditation status.

According to Linda Fly, OC’s Director of Nursing, this accreditation fulfilled a leap of faith the students took with the program. The students had faith in the faculty that they would be able to gain accreditation and continue to build the program and make it stronger.

OC Nursing met another milestone this spring with the graduation of its first 17 nurses. Fly said watching these students graduate and participate in what she hopes will be the first of many pinnings - a ceremony to welcome new graduates into the nursing profession - truly was an amazing and gratifying experience.

“We nurture these students like they are our own children. You pour your heart into them and you get to see the progress they make along the way,” she said.

The new graduates are already demonstrating the program’s quality. With one student left to test, OC was at an 87.5 percent pass rate. This exceeds the Oklahoma average of 82.7 percent and is close to the national average of 88 percent.

A shining example of how OC’s nursing is setting itself apart from other programs is through its medical missions focus. Students are required to take a four-hour course in health care missions and Christian service. This mission work must take place at either a culturally-diverse impoverished area in the United States or at an international site.

One choice that is becoming very popular with the students is HonduraServe. This past summer, nine students traveled to Honduras and worked in various villages, clinics and hospitals. Over a four-day period, the group sees more than 200 patients in the mountain areas alone, and countless others in the local hospitals.

Fly says this experience is eye-opening to her students. They are surprised to learn that these hospitals have a mortality rate of more than 50 percent. The rate is so high because, by the time patients reach the hospital, they have unsuccessfully tried to receive care at a number of other levels.

This piece of the curriculum, which combines the teaching of technical skills with the teaching of compassion and Christian focus, allows OC’s students to integrate their faith into their future profession.

Fly knows that, to continue the growth of the nursing program, the faculty and instructors must continue to learn. That is one reason she is pursuing a doctoral degree in nursing. She was one of just six students to be chosen for a new program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

With 114 nursing students enrolled at OC this fall, up from 72 students only two years ago, the program is poised to produce even more quality nurses who not only offer excellent care, but also offer their patients the love of Christ.

By Allison Shumate (05)