Providence and Timing: A History of BSN Program

by   |   njones@bju.edu   |  
Nurse blowing out lamp during BSN program pinning ceremony

The BJU Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is a result of God’s providence and perfect timing. It is also the fruit of the dedication of individuals such as Dr. Phil Smith, Dr. Barbara White, Trudy Fremont and Dr. Jewell Chambers to years of planning, praying and dependence on God.

Before the BSN program was established, nursing students would attend BJU their first year, attend a local technical college for two years for their RN, then complete their fourth year at BJU. Starting the program was a milestone.

Receiving State Board Approval

In the spring of 1979, BJU received official approval from the State Board of Nursing to establish a BSN program. I remember that day. I was sitting on a bench in front of the girls’ dorms praying for God’s leading. Did He want me in nursing or to change to education? Hard decisions. What I knew for certain was God wanted me at BJU all four years, which meant if the approval did not go through I would have to change my major. Then, someone excitedly came out of the girls’ dorms to announce the program received initial State Board of Nursing approval. This was an exciting day to see God’s plan unfold.

See Also: New Facility to Enhance Health Professions Programs

Meeting Prerequisites

Behind the scenes, faithful servants diligently prepared for the start of clinical classes that fall. For those declaring nursing as our major, we had prerequisites to complete before we could start clinical.

That summer, we stayed at BJU in residence for two sessions of summer school, taking two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) and one semester of Chemistry. We had class and lab daily from 7:30 a.m.–5 p.m. with a break for chapel and lunch. In A&P, we covered one chapter daily.

I remember our tests by Dr. Joe Henson. He would say, “You have an hour and a half to tell me everything you know about the endocrine system—go!” Tests were handwritten and penmanship counted. You had to know the material well. It was intense, yet God used those times to mold us for His service.

Following God’s Leading

God has shown His providence in my life as well. I had excellent grades in high school but lacked funds to attend college. What seemed like a hardship at the time, God used to direct my life. While working for a year after high school, my path did a 180-degree turn when I met a BJU graduate named Joy Anglea.

Joy was in her first year of medical school at the University of Virginia. We became housemates, then roommates. Joy’s testimony was a faithful witness of loving God and serving others, even in the midst of medical school. I was a new Christian and did not know what constituted a good church. Since I had no vehicle, I rode with Joy and attended a new church plant in Charlottesville. I had been accepted at Penn State University for nursing for the fall. However, Joy convinced me to visit the BJU campus that spring.

When I visited, it was a blessing to be with so many other Christians and have the opportunity to grow to love Christ more! Chapel was a new experience to me, to hear so many sing God’s praises and hear the Word of God preached. God used circumstances, people and His Word to direct me to BJU for nursing. As a student, I used to write my return address as “Heaven on earth,” for that is what BJU meant to me.

Setting a Precedent

Members of the first graduating class were pioneers. We were the first to do clinical at local hospitals and facilities. We had a reputation to uphold for our Lord and for BJU. Our class had the privilege of designing the nursing cap, the nursing pin, and writing the BJU nursing pledge, which is still recited at the Nurses Pinning ceremony.

In that first graduating class, we had 19 graduates. Our picture is in the hall of Grace Haight first floor, along with the pictures of the many graduates who have followed.

See Also: Pinning Ceremony Celebrates Service and Achievement

Learning to Care

Nursing is a program in which the students truly become family. The bonds are strengthened as they attend class together, study, attend clinical, pray, and grow academically and spiritually.

In their fundamentals course, students learn how to perform proper hand hygiene to prevent the spread of infection.  Each semester the students develop in their knowledge and skill, applying those attributes to real situations.

In their senior year, students have progressed enough to care for critically ill patients. In their final semester, the students are in Nursing Practicum, working for six weeks with a preceptor at a facility, functioning as students but honing their skills, preparing to be a full-fledged RN. The nursing classes are rigorous—they must be. Patients depend on our critical decision-making skills as nurses.

Nurturing a Legacy

BJU nursing graduates have a strong testimony of being well-prepared and outstanding in their character traits. With the class of 2019, there have been 1,252 BJU BSN program graduates serving the Lord across the country and around the world. Over the years, many faculty and staff have dedicated themselves to training these graduates, pouring their lives into their students.

I have completed my 15th year as a nursing faculty member. As a nurse, I work to make a difference in the lives of my patients and their families. As a nurse educator, I work to make a difference in the lives of my students so they can go forth and make a difference in the lives of their patients and families.

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