Off Campus Nursing Degree
Loma Linda University program builds bridges.
By Nancy Yuen, Loma Linda University,with Mark A. Kellner, news editor, Adventist World
In a stark contrast to the often-stratospheric cost of residential American graduate school education, a Seventh-day Adventist university is bringing its high-quality degree program in nursing education to teachers in distant parts of the world, free of tuition.
The goal is to make this training available to workers at Seventh-day Adventist hospitals around the world, without requiring them to leave either their duty stations or their countries for extended periods of time. The program is sponsored by theSchool of Nursing at Loma Linda University (LLU), the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s premier medical school, and includes annual sessions on the campus of church-owned Asia-Pacific International University (APIU) in Thailand.
On July 29, 2013, wearing academic regalia, 25 students from 15 countries followed Ronald Carter, provost and Marilyn Herrmann, dean, LLU School of Nursing, into the campus church at APIU. The occasion was a joyful recognition ceremony celebrating completion of the fourth and closing in-person session of the 2013 Master of Science (MS) degree program in Thailand. According to Herrmann, this year 67 alumni outside North America will have completed the program, reflecting and sharing the values of LLU School of Nursing through nursing education.
“While in the program,” said Edelweiss Ramal, off-campus MS degree program coordinator for LLU, “students continue to work in their home institutions. Each year they travel to the campus of Asia-Pacific International University to attend courses for one month, completing pre- and post-term assignments.” According to Marilyn Herrmann, the curriculum is the same as that taught on the LLU campus. Although there is a flat fee for transportation, room, and board, LLU does not charge tuition for the degree.
According to Elizabeth Bossert, associate dean, School of Nursing, “this was the first LLU degree in nursing to be offered internationally.” The program was designed for Seventh-day Adventist nurse educators to continue their ministry of teaching while completing their degrees. This allows them to immediately apply their education in their home setting. It was crucial that the students remained at their respective institutions while studying for the degree, maintaining their commitment to nursing education in their home countries.
Pat Jones, professor and director of the office of global nursing, LLU School of Nursing, and associate director, Department of Health Ministries, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, says, “Adventist nursing is unique. It is faith-based with integration of a commitment to health and wholeness, and deliberate attention to spiritual needs.”
Adventist nursing education began in 1883 at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Other nursing schools started soon after that, including at Sydney Sanitarium, Australia, in 1898, and at Loma Linda Sanitarium in 1905.
In 1900 the world population was estimated at 1.6 billion. With the number reaching 7 billion in March 2012, taking care of people in a hurting world has become increasingly complex.
Two global projects are helping Adventist nurses serve the church in meeting the challenge. The first, the LLU off-campus MS degree program, which started in 2005, prepares nurse educators around the world to teach nursing students from the Adventist perspective. The second, Global Partnerships in Nursing, now celebrating 15 years, affects Adventist nursing’s impact globally by challenging nursing administrators, professors, and practicing nurses in denominational institutions to become a dynamic, interactive system that will improve health and save lives.
“We developed the off-campus MS degree program,” says Jones, “because we were receiving requests from colleagues outside of North America asking if Loma Linda University could help them acquire a master’s degree in nursing.” Either programs were not available in their countries, or, if they were, students would need to leave families and jobs for extended periods of time. And courses were often taught on Sabbath. Church and institutional administrators also made requests: “Can LLU help us develop qualified faculty?”
Applicants are now being sought for the next session, which begins in June 2015. The application process takes many months so that educational data can be verified. In order to be considered for the program, nurses from sister Adventist institutions must apply by March 31, 2014.
“What’s so effective about the program,” says Ramal, “is that the graduates tell us their experience has been life-changing. They not only have learned to be good nursing faculty, but have become different human beings—demonstrating Christian values in their families, nursing practice, and teaching.”