Students practice examining eyes and ears and also work on other basic skills during a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing lab class on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Undergraduate Nursing Class is One of Brenau’s Largest, Most Experienced

May 31, 2016

Sixty-three students from four countries and 10 states began work May 16 toward Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees in what a Brenau University School of Nursing professor described as one of the most experienced classes in the program’s history.

This is the first cohort – a group in which all members pursue the same degree on virtually the same schedule – to enroll in the Brenau nursing program since the Georgia Board of Nursing, which licenses all nurses that practice in the state, in March extended full approval of the program through 2021. Brenau nursing programs also operate with full approval of the Washington, D.C.-based Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the federal government-sanctioned national accrediting agency.

More than half of the prospective nurses in the May cohort came from the Brenau undergraduate pre-nursing program, said Sandra Allen, chair of undergraduate studies at the nursing school. However, several others have bachelor’s or master’s degrees in other fields.

“They have better preparation in foundational courses and sciences,” Allen said.

For example, John Michael Stump, 30, from Gainesville, Georgia, earned an undergraduate economics degree in 2008 and spent the next seven years working primarily in real estate and industrial sales. However, he also spent some time as a patient care technician, which convinced him to change his career plans. Stump said he would like to eventually become an acute care nurse practitioner, with a focus on cardiac or critical care.

“Working in business, it’s just that: business,” Stump said. “In health care, you really connect with people on an emotional level. This is exactly where I need to be.”

Danielle Finnemore is another nontraditional student looking to switch professions. Born in Quebec, Canada, she has lived in Georgia for 16 years, working for a decade as a state child abuse investigator. She said she wants to work in emergency medicine, particularly as a forensic nurse or child abuse examiner.

Both Stump and Finnemore said they were impressed by Brenau’s recruiting efforts and emphasis on student-tailored education.

“I got a totally different feeling here than from any other school,” Finnemore said. “Here, you weren’t a number. You were a person and they looked at your individuality and what you had to offer.”

The latest BSN cohort is also one of the largest in the nursing school’s history.

School of Nursing Director Dina Hewett said Brenau attracts nontraditional students because of the experienced faculty, robust curriculum, ample opportunities for clinical educational experiences and the university’s investment in health care technology, including its innovative patient simulation center.

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