New Benedictine Nursing Program Receives Approval

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

While many colleges around the country are cutting back on programs, Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., is moving forward with a major expansion of its curriculum. The college announced the creation of a new nursing program last spring and began a national search for a nursing director. That position was filled by Lynne M. Connelly, Ph.D., RN, who assumed the position in January. Following a site visit in February, the Kansas State Board of Nursing officially approved Benedictine’s new program today.

“There are so many people here at Benedictine who made it possible for us to receive approval to start our program,” Connelly said. “President (of Benedictine College Stephen D.) Minnis, Dean (of the College Kimberly) Shankman, and the faculty had the vision to start the process of building a program of nursing. Faculty teaching in the pre-nursing courses have done a fabulous job as well as the staff who support all our students. I would particularly like to thank Dr. Dan Bowen, a biology professor at Benedictine, who has been advising many of the pre-nursing students. We all owe a special thanks to Jackie Harris, MSN, APRN (and Benedictine graduate) who did the extensive preliminary work needed to get the process of program approval started, served on the search committee for my position, and worked with me to write our application for approval. Without the detailed research that Jackie accomplished, we would probably have been delayed in receiving our approval. Thanks also to the many people who make Benedictine such a successful school and have been supportive of me since I arrived.”

Connelly has a tremendous amount of both clinical and academic teaching experience throughout her career. She served in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps for 22 years, retiring as Chief, Department of Nursing Science at the United States Army Medical Department Center and School. Prior to joining the faculty at Benedictine, she was a member of the faculty at the University of Kansas School of Nursing and prior to that at University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio School of Nursing.

Students started taking pre-nursing classes this past fall and some will begin clinical nursing courses (usually taken in the junior and senior years) beginning in the fall of 2010. Benedictine College plans to begin granting Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees in May of 2012.

“I am very proud that we have developed this new program,” said Minnis. “It is very much in keeping with our mission, it allows us to help address a serious and growing need in society today (shortage of nurses), and lets us offer a program that students are eager to accept. Benedictine College, with its emphasis on community, faith and scholarship, is perfectly suited to educate the nurses our world so desperately needs.”

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, due to an aging population and longer life expectancies, more than 1 million new and replacement nurses will be needed by the year 2016. The pre-nursing curriculum, which includes the college’s general education requirements and specific courses required for admittance to the nursing program, generally takes two years to complete.

Individuals will enter as pre-nursing students and then apply to the nursing program during their sophomore year. If accepted into the nursing program, students will primarily take nursing classes during their junior and senior years and spend time in clinical rotations during those two years. With approximately 25 students per class, nursing students will develop close relationships with professors and fellow students. Graduates must take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become registered nurses.

More information about the program is available from Connelly at lconnelly@benedictine.eduor 913.360.7560 or through the Office of Admission at 913.360.7476.

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been consistently named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report. It has also been named a Leader in Educational Excellence by Colleges of Distinction as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. Benedictine prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.