As featured in the Spring 2006 American Concierge Magazine
Illinois Wesleyan’s School of Nursing Provides Educational Excellence
State-of-the-art facilities, diversified experiences, and superior instructors equip
students to lead in the field with skill and compassion.
The School of Nursing at Illinois Wesleyan University blends the liberal arts with
its professional program, offering students a broad foundation of learning along with
important career preparation. The School offers exceptionally skilled faculty, superb
training opportunities and a distinctive Spanish minor that addresses the nursing
care needs of the country’s growing Hispanic population.
IWU Associate Professor of Nursing Kathryn Scherck, left, shows student Kristian Lavinder
how to check symptoms on the School of Nursing's SimMan.
Students benefit from the University’s liberal arts emphasis with courses that stress
writing and group projects, allowing students to develop the communication and interpersonal
abilities, critical thinking and decision-making skills the nursing profession requires.
In addition, all senior nursing students take a business management course in the
Division of Business and Economics. By offering a course that focuses on businesses
beyond the health care industry, broader principles are taught that can be applied
to many different areas.
“It’s important that students have the opportunity to learn about business from the
perspective of someone outside of health care, so they get this broader view of the
world,” says Donna Hartweg, director of the School of Nursing. She notes that interdisciplinary
understanding and communication are hallmarks of the Institute of Medicine’s Health
Professions Education Report of the Future.
An unusual advantage to the liberal arts environment at Illinois Wesleyan was demonstrated
last year in an “Acting Across the Curriculum” course offered through the School of
Theatre Arts, which sent acting students to classes across campus as a teaching tool.
For nursing students, the actors staged examples of inappropriate bedside manner,
providing a memorable lesson on professional development.
All of the full-time faculty in IWU’s School of Nursing have doctorate degrees. Hartweg
notes this is especially significant because Illinois Wesleyan is an undergraduate-only
institution, allowing close interaction of undergraduate students with doctorally
prepared faculty, and differing from many schools, where comparably prepared faculty
members often teach only in graduate programs.
“We pride ourselves on the close relationships that develop between our students and
faculty,” says Hartweg. “With our small class sizes, faculty really get to know students
well because they work so closely with them in the classroom and in clinical settings.
“These faculty could teach anywhere they want to teach, but they choose to teach at
Illinois Wesleyan because of their commitment to undergraduate education.”
Unlike most universities, students have direct admission as freshmen to the School
of Nursing. Once enrolled, no future application is necessary. The vast majority of
nursing students complete their degrees in four years.
Graduates of the School of Nursing pursue a variety of exciting careers, often taking
positions of leadership. Many Most go on to graduate study. Alumni include chief operating
officers of major health care institutions and community health care clinics, nursing
professors, researchers, school nurses, nurse midwives, nurse practitioners and more.
Typically, 100 percent of graduates of the School of Nursing are employed at the time
they complete their degrees.
The curriculum at the School of Nursing reflects its philosophy toward patient care,
following a framework called the theory of self-care. This theory sees health care
as a collaborative process between nurse and patient and other caregivers, including
family. Students in the nursing program at Illinois Wesleyan complete three years
of clinical experience at a variety of sites in the region, including hospitals, home
health agencies, child care centers and community health care agencies. In addition,
opportunities for off-campus study include internships and travel courses.
Many nursing students choose to perform internships exploring topics and objectives
that reflect their individual interests, ranging from specialty nursing care to language
study. Internships can be arranged in a student’s hometown area or in non-clinical
fields, such as one student’s recent work with lobbyists in Springfield, Ill., to
support nursing-specific legislation understand the importance of political action
to health care delivery.
Students have the option to take special travel courses during the University’s May
Term to study Transcultural Nursing in Hawaii or liberal arts subjects throughout
the world. Additional study-abroad opportunities promote enhanced language skills
and cultural immersion in countries such as Mexico or Denmark.
A formal minor in Spanish at Illinois Wesleyan serves as a complement to the bachelor
of science in nursing. The six-course minor includes work in language, literature,
and culture through the University’s Department of Hispanic Studies, along with a
medical Spanish course or an internship where linguistic and cultural skills are put
to use in a professional context. The program addresses a critical need, as demographics
show a steadily increasing Hispanic/Latino population in the United States, which
the health care industry must be prepared to serve.
"This is a quality of care issue in which we must have nurses who are able to converse
with patients in their native language to provide them the level of care that they
need," Hartweg says.
Students in the program have found that speaking in a patient’s native language can
increase their level of comfort, and understanding cultural issues can aid in providing
"This is such an obvious win-win situation," Hartweg says. "Our students who pursue
the Spanish minor have a real advantage in the job market. At the same time, the more
nurses who are able to address this growing population, the better our health care
system will be."
Facilities at the School of Nursing include the Nursing Interventions Laboratory,
which enables students to practice and develop the types of skills they will use in
interacting with patients in a variety of care settings.
One noted piece of equipment in the laboratory is SimMan, an anatomical model of the
full human body designed to realistically simulate many types of medical management
and crisis situations. SimMan is connected to a computer program that allows instructors
to control his vital signs, alter his medical conditions, program specific scenarios
and record their own sound bytes.
Like a real person, SimMan’s blood can be drawn and his blood pressure can be taken
automatically, auscultated (through a stethoscope), or palpated (by touch). He also
has a patent airway system, multiple inflatable bladders, the ability to clench his
teeth, and a life-size intubation head with a flexible tongue, vocal chords and trachea.
IWU is fortunate to have the $50,000 simulated manikin manufactured by Laerdal, a
Texas supplier of emergency medical products and training solutions. The late Deloris
Helsley Ascher, a 1953 Illinois Wesleyan and Brokaw School of Nursing alumna, donated
half of the cost for SimMan in 2003 with a challenge to fellow alumni.