WSU nursing program celebrates 60 years

2013 marks the 60th anniversary of Weber State University’s prestigious nursing program. Founded in 1953, the program has allowed more than 7,000 registered nurses to enter the work force trained and educated.

Known for its competitive offering of associate’s degrees, the program began with the participation in a nationwide pilot program by graduate student Mildred Montag that eventually revolutionized nursing education for the nation.

According to WSU’s official nursing program website, the WSU School of Nursing’s mission is unique to the nursing profession in that its goal is “to prepare nurses at the associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels while offering an academic setting wherein safe patient-centered care, quality improvement, evidence-based practice, teamwork and collaboration, and informatics are core values.”

Melissa Neville, assistant professor in the WSU Master of Nursing program, said the nursing program has more than 700 students enrolled each year, making it the largest in the state of Utah.

“(It is) truly a remarkable program. Our students are highly motivated, and have a reputation of excellence among our community partners,” Neville said. “Because of the education they receive here at Weber State, I know our graduates have the knowledge and skills necessary to lead change and elevate patient care in meaningful ways.”

According to WSU’s official nursing FAQ webpage, the WSU nursing program received its accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Ninety-five percent of students begin working in their field within six months of graduation from WSU’s program. “WSU nursing students participate in a wide variety of clinical practice environments, including acute care settings, health screening clinics, acute and chronic psychiatric facilities, home care and hospice.”

Rieneke Holman, an assistant professor of nursing originally from the University of Utah, said she has enjoyed her time at WSU.

“I started here when I did my student teaching . . . I really like the atmosphere in the nursing program here,” she said. “It was a lot more of like a family kind of feel to it, as opposed to where I’d been. People are really supportive, and helpful, and mentoring.”

Holman explained that each school of nursing has its own focus: the U of U is a research-oriented school, while WSU focuses more on the students and community partners.

“We care about our students,” Holman said. “We understand that our students are going to be our colleagues, and we try to treat them as such. We want them to succeed. We really believe in the nursing profession, and want to create great nurses.”

Neville agreed. “We are so proud of our program and the countless lives that our faculty, students and graduates have touched over the years.“

WSU alumnus Misty Merrill graduated from the nursing program in April of 2013, and currently works at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden.

“Having kids and going to school, and trying to juggle everything, doing homework . . . that was really hard,” she said. “I actually got to experience the real world . . . so doing the clinical part really helped me understand more. And I’m a hands-on person . . . (it) really sent me my way and helped me throughout this whole process.” She said she was a big supporter of the WSU nursing program.

“We believe in leaving a legacy of caring through excellence, and strive to prepare our nursing graduates with an education to meet the challenges of an ever-changing and increasingly challenging health care environment,” Neville said.