Catholic college, university prepare to welcome first nursing students

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Jocelyn Railsback, who plans to be among the first nursing students at Saint Xavier University in Gilbert, explores one of its simulation labs. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Jocelyn Railsback, who plans to be among the first nursing students at Saint Xavier University in Gilbert, explores one of its simulation labs. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

A pair of nursing degrees will soon bear the name of one of two local Catholic campuses on it.

Saint Xavier University’s bachelor of science in nursing program for upper division students will begin at its Gilbert campus in August while the College of St. Scholastica’s graduate nursing program will begin in May with courses largely online and clinical experience throughout the Valley.

Both campuses already offer an online “R.N. to B.S.” in nursing program to help keep up with both student interest and industry demand in the field, especially Arizona. The new programs will allow graduates of Saint Xavier University to address a variety of patient cases, be more career-ready and pave the way for its existing master of science in nursing online programs. College of St. Scholastica graduates will leave with a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in one of three key specialty areas.

Saint Xavier University

Nursing classes at Saint Xavier University will be on the third floor of the not even year-old facility. The education subcommittee for the Arizona Board of Nursing specifically praised how the facilities were built with learning in mind. An array of simulation labs from pediatrics to cardiac care, obstetrics/gynecology, hospice, hospital floor and doctor’s office settings plus adjoining control rooms allow students to get lifelike practical experience before moving on to real patients.

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Info session

10 a.m.-1 p.m., March 19 or 4-7 p.m., March 29 at Saint Xavier University, 92 W. Vaughn Ave., Gilbert

4-5 p.m., March 22 online

Info: sxu.edu/gilbert

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Jocelyn Railsback is already a certified nursing assistant and plans to become one of Saint Xavier University’s first nursing students at its Gilbert campus. She enjoys patient interaction, but her interest in the field gets much more personal.

Both of her parents are deceased and it pains her that she wasn’t able to take care of them like she wanted to in their final years. Railsback might become a hospice nurse some day.

Saint Xavier University’s Illinois campus has over 80 years of collegiate nursing experience beginning with the Sisters of Mercy. Eight core values including compassion, hospitality, excellence and learning for life are woven into academics and the university’s operating ethos.

“For many, it’s important [their university] aligns with personal values,” said Claudia Tomany, vice provost for the Gilbert campus. “The core principles of our faith are embedded in our program as well.” She noted the care and concern of patients from the natural beginning to the natural end of life.

College of St. Scholastica

Courses, faculty and staff at College of St. Scholastica are rooted in Benedictine values. Students working toward their Doctor of Nursing Practice will become nurse practitioners who can improve healthcare organization. They will specialize in adult/gerontology, family care or psychiatric and mental health.

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Info session

5-7 p.m., March 24 at Culinary Dropout at The Yard,
5632 N. Seventh St., Phoenix

Apply by April 1

Info: Christy Potter at
(480) 744-6738
or css.edu/locations/arizona

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“It gives the nurse extra skills so they can solve problems at the systems level,” Maria Laughner, College of St. Scholastica’s regional director, said of the program.

There will also be a focus on technology and rural healthcare — which impact some 90 million patients nationwide, including many areas in Arizona — added Julie Anderson, dean of the college’s School of Nursing.

The college has already exceeded projected enrollment for the pilot group, which Anderson said reflects the needs assessment for values-based nursing programs in the area. The nursing for nurse practitioners and a pair of other specialties has a projected growth rate of 31 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than all other occupations.

“There are lots of areas in this country where nurses play a key role in providing health care,” including Arizona, Anderson said. “Wherever you start on the continuum, you need to keep going. The country needs nurses.”

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