Five Years and Flourishing: Excellence in SUU Nursing

Published: November 18, 2009 | Read Time: 3 minutes

In its fifth year as a four-year degree at Southern Utah University, the nursing program consistently provides a high level of commitment to student success and a programmatic depth that ensures SUU’s students receive the very best in their nursing education. With a growing applicant pool year after year, the still young program is attracting and graduating the highest caliber students, providing a springboard into professional excellence. 

Considering its fast rise to success and the strength of its student body, it seems only fitting that to mark its fifth anniversary, SUU’s Department of Nursing would host a celebration that heralds excellence in the region’s health care system. To this end, the campus and local communities will join together in “A Celebration of Southern Utah Nursing” on Thursday, November 19, at 6 p.m. in the Old Rock Church just off Main Street in Cedar City. 

And as SUU nursing prepares to mark its anniversary, we look back on its former years with pride, using them as a marker of promise for the next five years and beyond. 

In 2004, the University’s nursing program was granted accreditation, allowing SUU’s students access to a four-year independent program that could teach both to the required curriculum and the distinct interests of health care across the southern Utah region. 

Before 2004, Thunderbird students with an interest in nursing could only earn a nursing certificate. But with an increasing demand for nurses with four-year degrees and with the motivation to help students capitalize on their time at SUU, 

Since then, SUU’s Department of Nursing has granted more than 290 degrees, and while students at SUU, these nurses did more than just attend classes; they received hands-on experience through career-centered activities on campus and throughout the community. At SUU, nursing students are continually involved and are called on to administer vaccinations, perform standard health screens and assist local schools with youth hearing and vision screening. 

With strong community support, many of the University’s students gain valuable internships and part-time positions while they complete their studies, and together, the University’s and the community’s resources give SUU’s future nurses a professional advantage and an increased confidence as they enter the work force. 

According to Nursing Department Chair Donna Lister, over the past five years, SUU’s Nursing students have been extremely successful in job placement. Says Lister, “Job placement for students who graduate and successfully complete NCLEX-RN testing is well above 95 percent.” And though she says the economy has slowed hiring within the field, Lister says that most of SUU’s nursing students have secured employment prior to their formal graduation. 

Looking to graduate school, Lister says that many of SUU’s nursing students go on to pursue CRNA programs across the nation. And though anecdotal, Lister claims she does not know of any SUU student who have applied to graduate school for nursing who have not been accepted. 

And as more and more health care facilities ask for baccalaureate degrees as a requirement instead of a preference, SUU’s students prove a valuable commodity to communities around the southwest as both student volunteers and new professionals. 

And as the program grows and more of SUU’s nursing students enter the work force, Lister is confident that impact will continue to expand. Beyond local praise, SUU nursing graduates are increasingly sought after by hospitals across the state. Lister cited one hospital in northern Utah that specifically recruits SUU graduates every semester for its ICU units because, as they told Lister, “SUU is the only school that prepares its students well for acute care settings.” 

Looking to the future, Lister remains optimistic. She concludes, “Our students have performed well and are frequently moved rapidly into leadership positions as they enter practice, both locally and throughout the state and nation.” 

Congratulations to SUU’s nursing graduates and to the supportive, relevant program that is increasingly producing some of the best nurses in the state. On this fifth year anniversary, a celebration of excellence seems well-deserved.

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