OGDEN -- When the College of Nursing was established 60 years ago on the campus of Weber State University, it consisted of one director, a couple of educators and 36 students.
Today the department, which is now part of the Dumke College of Health Professionals, has one director, four administrators, more than 40 full-time faculty members and 800 nursing students each year. It's the largest nursing school in Utah.
The school offers several different degrees to those wanting to work in the nursing field, including the associated degree registered nurse, the post licensure bachelor of nursing and the master of science in nursing, with two separate tracks -- one in administration and the other in education, said Susan B. Thornock, chair of the school of nursing.
Each year 374 students are selected into the RN program, 380 to the BSN program and 20 to 24 into the MSN program.
In addition, the school has an association with all of the hospital systems and several longterm care facilities, including the George E. Wahlen Veterans Home.
"The greater percentage of the clinical rotations for our students take place in the first two years of education in the pre-licensure RN program," Thornock said. "We contract with the local hospitals and several hospitals throughout Utah to allow our students to work directly with experienced nurses while they are learning their clinical skills."
The hospitals are very generous in allowing students to be trained, which makes a huge difference in their education, Thornock said.
"I really cannot say enough about how grateful we are to have this wonderful partnership with all of our hospitals and longterm care facilities," she said.
McKay-Dee Hospital public relations director Chris Dallin said the hospital has always valued its relationship with the university nursing program.
"When other communities have had a challenge with nursing shortages McKay-Dee Hospital has had the lucky fortune to have a relationship with Weber State to provide nursing care," he said. "The nature of the program allows us to introduce a nurse into our culture, so by the time they reach graduation they are able to assimilate well into our program."
The nursing program at the university also gives students the opportunity to study abroad. Thornock
herself has been to China to work with the College of Health Professions in Jiamusa and has submitted a curriculum to a university in Beijing to help train nurses for the influx of longterm care facilities that is now taking place.
Faculty member Deborah Judd has written two books and works with the Utah Legislature to help with lawmaking associated with the nurse practitioner. Faculty member Kathy Culliton has also authored nursing textbooks that are consistently used all over the country.