Ersin updates Faculty Senate on new nursing major

JJ Bullock

Özlem Ersin, the dean of Eastern’s College of Health and Human Services, informed Eastern’s Faculty Senate on Tuesday that the college is continuing to move forward in the implementation of a new four-year nursing degree, and that structure is in place and staff “know what they’re doing.” 

Ersin said there is still “a lot to be done” in the process of getting Eastern’s four-year nursing program ready for students and said the college is currently waiting on a finalized strategic planning process for the program moving forward from the university before everything can be completed.  

Sue Gosse, senate member and professor in the College of Health and Human Services, reiterated that there is still lots of work to be done on the new program before it will be ready to go, including steps in the accreditation process.  

“We’re really months away from really being able to recruit students or more faculty to come on,” Gosse said. “I think the goal is a great one, and it has support from top-down at the university, so I think it is going to happen.” 

Operational excellence, diversity and inter-professional education are what Ersin said are her three main focus points and goals in the development of the nursing program.  

Ersin wants the development of this program to include a lot of faculty and employees asking “why” questions, specifically questioning why the college will do things the way they do. This is what Ersin said falls under the “operational excellence” umbrella. 

Bringing in a “different set of students” to Eastern through the new nursing program was also incredibly important to Ersin, and she said she wants the makeup of the faculty and staff in the program to reflect the goals of the university.  

It was the topic of “inter-professional education,” however, that drew the longest round of conversations from the senate, and even sparked a conversation about general education at Eastern as a whole, which Ersin weighed in on.  

Ersin’s idea of inter-professional education in the nursing program means training nurses to have “certain skills, attitudes and knowledge” they can bring to the field of nursing that comes from receiving a well-rounded liberal arts education.  

This means not only giving Eastern’s nursing students the job training they need to be successful from day one in the field, as Ersin put it: “You don’t want the first time a nurse interacts with a pharmacist to be their first day,” but it also includes making sure nurses have life skills such as informational literacy and health literacy. 

 Health literacy, as it pertains to nurses specifically, would mean that nursing students graduating from Eastern would not only be able to take care of others’ physical well-beings but also their own. Ersin said students should graduate knowing how to cook a proper meal and knowing how to exercise to keep their bodies and minds healthy. 

“I really enjoy the learning goals; I think the learning goals are great ideals,” Gosse said. “I think the practical emphasis (Ersin) brought forward is an important one as well because as society gets more complex, we as faculty and as a university community have to think about the skills for successful life and fill in those gaps.” 

Ersin also serves on the general education reading committee, and her comments about creating well-rounded students who have practical financial and informational literacy sparked a broader conversation about how Eastern could potentially measure these things from students in the future.  

Ersin, for example, said she would love to administer a test to incoming freshman that measure financial literacy and senator Steve Scher said he would also like to see some kind of testing of students that measures if Eastern is reaching its learning goals in general education of giving students a practical liberal arts education.  

Provost Jay Gatrell said he was on board with the idea of testing students on these things but said it would take a “huge culture change” to implement that kind of thing.  

Gatrell said he would be willing to use faculty resources to make that a reality, but the tests would have to be tied to grades in order to get students to participate and that the testing would also have to utilize potentially up to two class days, which Gatrell suggested would come in January.  

The Senate also voted to assign Don Holly to be the faculty representative on the search committee for a new Vice President of Student Affairs.  

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].