President Main's Comments on New Catholic Nursing Program
Guests, monks, faculty, staff and students, welcome to a very special occasion.
Today, we are pleased to formally announce that St. Gregory's University is partnering with Oklahoma’s four Catholic healthcare systems – Mercy, St. John, St. Francis and St. Anthony – to establish a Catholic Nursing Program.
St. Gregory’s and its Catholic healthcare partners will collaboratively develop a model of nursing education unlike any other offered in Oklahoma or the region. The program will have two unique features.
First, the curriculum will have an ethical focus based in Catholic theology and social teaching. St. Gregory’s nursing graduates will be well trained to treat their patients with integrative and holistic care.
Secondly, we are planning for our program to include a residency component that will provide new nurses with significant clinical experience. St. Gregory’s nursing graduates will be thoroughly prepared for employment, requiring much less on the job training.
When fully developed, St. Gregory’s Nursing Program will include three degree programs and three learning formats. A traditional Bachelor of Nursing degree program will be offered on the Shawnee campus. A bridge program to advance from Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will be offered in an adult accelerated training format in Shawnee, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. A graduate program will be added later, also in an adult friendly format. These degree programs will include online course work.
St. Gregory’s is uniquely qualified to establish a nursing program. Graduates of our existing bio-medical program have high acceptance rates into medical and other professional schools. We are Oklahoma's only Catholic University with a proud Benedictine tradition of educating students in mind, body and spirit. Our students receive a holistic, ethics-focused education based in the Catholic intellectual and liberal arts tradition with its emphasis on critical thinking, ethical decision making, problem solving and servant leadership.
The process to secure state and national accreditations for the program is underway.
Students interested in the traditional BSN program can apply for admission in biology and begin their studies this August by taking pre-nursing courses. Subject to approval, we expect to enroll our first students in the RN to BSN program in the fall.
We have raised $1.4 million for the start-up costs for all three programs, which includes first-year operating funds, capital expenses, laboratory spaces and equipment. We have several generous donors to thank today.
Each of the hospitals has equally contributed to provide a total of $600,000. We want to recognize the representatives who are here with us today. We thank you, most sincerely, for your investment and partnership.
An anonymous family foundation has donated $600,000 for the start-up costs. They are represented here today by Frank Merrick, President of Foundation Management, Inc. and Kari Koster, Executive Assistant. Frank and Kari, please convey our deepest appreciation to our angel donor. And thank you both for connecting them with us. We also want to express our appreciation to the Westerman Foundation for the purchase of equipment for our new nursing lab. Let’s acknowledge the foundation’s executive director, Catherine Belden.
The very first gift to the program, which helped spur us forward, was made by Ken and Karen Kenworthy, who want no recognition, but are here today and deserve a round of applause.
We thank the four health systems, family foundation and philanthropic couple who have generously made the St. Gregory’s Nursing Program possible.
Additionally, we have received our first nursing scholarship, which was established in memory of Polly Keenan, who was the parish nurse at St. Eugene’s in Oklahoma City.
I am proud to introduce our Director of Nursing, Dr. Susan Barnes, who has a nurse educator for 20 years. Dr. Barnes earned her Masters and PhD from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and was most recently chair of Transformative and Global Education at Oklahoma City University.