Weber State University’s nursing program celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2003. The nursing faculty is proud to be part of a long and honorable legacy of excellence in nursing education. WSU offers students the option to earn a certificate as a practical nurse, or a degree as an associate’s degree registered nurse, or a bachelor’s degree registered nurse. The WSU nursing program’s legacy has provided nursing education not only in Ogden, but, through its outreach programs, virtually every community throughout Utah.
Weber State’s nursing program was launched shortly following the end of World War II. Compounding the effects of the war on the civilian pool of registered nurses, the United States found itself embroiled in the North Korean conflict. These combined factors produced the gravest nursing shortage of modern history. Mildred Montag, a doctoral student at Teacher’s College and Director of Adelphi College’s School of Nursing, designed and proposed the associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) model as an alternative to the two existing educational models for nurses. She posited that both the three-year hospital-based Diploma program, as well as the four-year university-based BSN program were excessively time intensive, and proposed that a two-year college-based associate degree program would be a time-efficient and realistic alternative for educating technical registered nurses.
With funding support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Montag designed and implemented a research project in which seven community colleges throughout the United States would be selected to serve as research pilot programs for a revolutionary associate degree model for nursing education. It was the year 1953, and Weber State College (now Weber State University), located in downtown Ogden, Utah, was selected as one of the seven pilot Montag ADN programs.
Thirty-six enthusiastic and courageous young women, joined by equally courage nursing faculty, became the first class of the Weber State associate’s degree nursing program. Needless to say, this new and unproven model for educating nurses was met with significant resistance and concern by Ogden’s nursing and medical communities alike. Ruth Swenson, RN, served as the first director of Weber’s associate’s degree nursing program. Working very closely with community leaders, health care facilities, nurses, and physicians, Ms. Swenson and the program faculty overcome any concerns. The success of the students soon won the support for the new nursing program.
Much has been accomplished since the first class was admitted to the WSU nursing program. Today, well over 7,000 men and women have graduated from the program and gone on to serve as registered nurses in their communities. Throughout the 50 years the program has been in existence, the nursing faculty, with the leadership of Ruth Swenson, Leola Davidson, Gerry Hansen, and most recently Debra T. Huber, has developed a nationally recognized nursing education program. They have developed and implemented an effective “career-ladder” approach to nursing education, and a respected and successful distance and innovative Internet-based online delivery model for PN, ADN and RN to BSN education.
The WSU nursing program also is proud to have had the opportunity to serve as the 1971 Utah Board of Regents designated provider of ADN Nursing Education in the State System of Higher Education. As a result of this mandate, associate’s degree nursing programs have been offered by WSU at cooperative campuses located throughout the state. Programs were offered at Utah State University in Logan, Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) in Salt Lake City, Southern Utah University in Cedar City, and Dixie State College in St. George. Two of these campuses, Utah State University and Southern Utah University, continue to have cooperative nursing programs with WSU, while SLCC and Dixie State College have been approved by the Board of Regents to offer their own nursing programs. In continuing fulfillment of this early mandate, WSU nursing outreach programs continued to be offered throughout Utah’s rural communities, including Tooele, Richfield, Roosevelt/Vernal, Payson, Price, Delta and Panquitch.
Despite early voices of concern and dismay, the college and university-based associate’s degree model for nursing education has been a tremendous success, growing from seven pilot programs in 1953 to more than 900 programs throughout the U.S. today. WSU, beginning as a pilot program for a unproven and revolutionary model of nursing education, offers hundreds of men and women throughout Utah the opportunity to become a registered nurse. The health and well-being of these urban and rural communities have benefited from the invaluable service provided by WSU’s nursing graduates.
This contribution to our state is a source of great pride for WSU’s nursing program, both today and into the future. Displaying the spirit of those 1953 faculty and students, the current faculty and students are ready to embrace the challenges facing today’s nursing professionals . The WSU nursing program continues to be as committed to serving the nursing education needs of Utah as were the nursing pioneers we honored during our 50th anniversary commemoration in 2003.
School of Nursing Mission
The Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions School of Nursing mission statement not only supports the mission of the University and the College, it is unique unto Nursing. The School’s mission is to prepare nurses at the practical, associate, baccalaureate, and master’s degree levels while offering an academic setting wherein excellence, global awareness, and diversity are core values. To achieve this mission the School of Nursing prepares graduates who will competently practice nursing within a complex local, national, and international environment, understand the significance of evolving healthcare technology, and apply both professional and ethical principles with sensitivity to the diverse needs of individuals, groups, and communities.
School of Nursing Philosophy and Framework
The WSU nursing faculty articulates a philosophy for the School of Nursing that is consistent with that of Weber State University (WSU) and the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions (DCHP). The philosophy statements define the faculty’s core values as they relate to professional nursing education and practice. These core values include: excellence in nursing education and practice; respect for self and the diversity found within others; the creation of an inclusive environment in which students can learn the practice of nursing; organizational and personal accountability; and the promotion of a learning and nursing practice environment that exhibits integrity in both choice and action.
WSU School of Nursing Career Ladder Model
Meeting the complex healthcare needs of a global society requires varying patterns and levels of nursing education and practice. The WSU School of Nursing’s approach to nursing education offers four separate but coordinated levels of study: Practical Nursing, Associate Degree Nursing, Baccalaureate Nursing, and Master’s of Science Nursing. Each level of the Program prepares the graduate to either practice nursing or provide leadership within increasingly complex roles and broader levels of autonomy. This progression model, or career-ladder nursing education model, affords the nursing student, each with a unique set of life challenges, the opportunity to engage in life-long learning and expand within his or her professional, cultural, personal, and social roles.
Program outcomes are developed as performance indicators that give evidence the WSU nursing program is meeting the mission and goals set by faculty. Documentation of outcomes shows the effectiveness of the educational program and serves to guide maintenance and revision of components of the program. Program outcomes have been developed using the National League of Nursing Accrediting Council (NLNAC) criteria as guidelines.
Outcomes are consistent across nursing units with leveling statements that show the progression of students through practical nursing to associate’s degree nursing to bachelor’s degree nursing. Outcomes are consistent with the mission and philosophy of WSU, the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions and the nursing program. At the completion of their program of learning, the graduate will:
Outcome No. 1: Students will progress to graduation in a timely manner as identified by program policy. Graduates will be educated to be nurse generalists who are prepared to be employed in diverse health care setting at the appropriate level of education: PN, ADN, or BSN.
Outcome No. 2: Students will successfully pass the PN-NCLEX and the RN-NCLEX at or above the Utah State Board of Nursing and NLNAC established benchmark pass rate.
Outcome No. 3: PN, ADN, and BSN program graduates, seeking such employment, will be employed in a health care setting within 6 months of graduation.
Outcome No. 4: Students and graduates will be satisfied that the program of learning provides qualified faculty; adequate resources to meet educational mission; adequate clinical facilities to provide sufficient learning experiences; and the means to increase student skills in critical/creative thinking, communication, and therapeutic nursing interventions. Employers will be satisfied that the program of learning prepares PN, ADN and BSN graduates to practice nursing at the appropriate level of preparation following graduation.