IU’s fast track to nursing
By Christin Nance Lazerus firstname.lastname@example.org July 1, 2013 9:20PM
Lecturer/Staff R.N. Arlene Rossin-Halaschak of Crown Point (Left) instructs Ashleigh Janiga. | Jeff Addison ~ Sun -Times Media
Updated: August 3, 2013 6:04AM
GARY — Joe Popa worked in healthcare construction for six years, but found the work unsatisfying.
Kristina Morgan was preparing for a job as a physical therapist, when she realized the job wasn’t for her.
Jasmine Dayon comes from a family of nurses and was warned about becoming one, but she gravitated toward it anyway.
The students in Indiana University Northwest’s Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program come from a variety of backgrounds, but a desire to enter a rewarding and growing field attracted them to the option.
But it’s not easy choice. Students must complete four years worth of nursing coursework in a small window — 18 months with summers included. Students must have several general education classes — anatomy, chemistry and microbiology — completed before admission, and they need a 3.0 GPA in nursing-related courses.
“It is higher than the traditional program,” School of Nursing Director Linda Delunas said. “We have to know they’ll be successful.”
Delunas said the school launched the program about six years ago when other schools started similar programs due to projected nurse shortages. There’s been a push in recent years to increase the number of bachelor’s degree-prepared nurses culminating in the release of the 2010 Future of Nursing report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“We became aware that this was something going on nationwide, which we already had at some other IU campuses,” Delunas said. “We thought this would be a good program for our student population because of our preprofessional, biology and psychology programs. Students might not know what exact profession they want to go into or they find out when they graduate that it’s not the job they envisioned.”
Delunas said there is a real emphasis on diversity in the nursing profession to improve the care of all patients and the BA/BS to BSN program has proven to be a draw to underrepresented populations.
“The option seems to be particularly attractive to men,” she said.
Popa, who graduated from the program in December 2012, applied to the program with the hope of finding a more life-fulfilling career.
“I saw where my life was going and didn’t like what I saw,” Popa said.
Popa works as an ICU nurse at the Methodist Hospitals Northlake. He said the work can definitely be challenging, but the IUN program helped prepare him.
“The summers were very difficult for everyone and you don’t really have time for family or a girlfriend, but that’s what made us intertwined,” Popa said. “Everyone had the same struggles and it made us bond.”
A new group of about 20 students started their 18-month crash course in mid-May and already they were preparing for finals at the end of June.
Instructor Arlene Rossin-Halaschak was reviewing the tests nurses and doctors will run to diagnose a patient’s ailment and explaining what they can reveal as part of the Health Assessment course.
Jude Okofu was the guinea pig, while Ashleigh Janiga placed a tuning fork on his head and hit his knee with a reflex hammer. It may have looked funny, but the Weber test helps check hearing and bone conduction.
Delunas said students practice a lot of their assessments on interactive mannequins, which can display blood pressure information and other vital signs when hooked up to a monitor.
Medical terms are important, but Delunas said the most vital skill students can learn is communication.
“Studies show that a large number of medical errors occur when communication breaks down,” Delunas said. “We really teach the students how to work together. Communicaton in all its forms is the most important skill.”
Lowell resident Katherine Allert said the close-knit program helps foster communication as well.
“We’re going to eat, sleep and breathe nursing for the next 18 months,” Allert said. “But the faculty is always there for us to assist us. They’re there to make you a great nurse.”
The placement rate is nearly 100 percent in the six months following graduation. Delunas said the senior capstone course, where students work alongside a registered nurse at a local hospital, has served as an extended job interview for many students.
“It’s tough out there,” Delunas said. “This is not the job for the faint of heart.”