(Looking at the inner workings of a partially disassembled high-fidelity mannequin at Silver Lake College are, from left, Melissa Hamachek, adjunct faculty member; Brianna Neuser, director of SLC’s nursing program; and Sister Lorita Gaffney, executive director of mission integration)
By Benjamin Wideman / Director of Media Relations
The Wisconsin Board of Nursing voted unanimously on Jan. 14 to approve authorization for Silver Lake College to begin admitting students to its new four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
The state-of-the-art program, which will begin in fall of 2016, will help address the rapidly increasing need for nurses as growing numbers of people requiring health care (including older nurses) reach retirement age.
“The approval of the program serves as an acknowledgement of Silver Lake College’s commitment to academic excellence and a commitment to serving the needs of our community,” said Dr. Chris Domes, in his third year as president of Silver Lake College.
The program will be especially beneficial to Manitowoc County, which has a disproportionate number of residents over the age of 65 compared to the rest of the country. According to 2014 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 18.6 percent of Manitowoc County’s population is over the age of 65, compared to 14.5 percent across the United States.
“There is a tremendous need for nurses,” said Brianna Neuser, director of Silver Lake College’s new BSN program. “Each year, thousands of students are turned away from nursing programs due to limited capacity and/or not enough faculty. Silver Lake College is now in a position where we can help reduce the number of students being turned away through guaranteed acceptance into our program (contingent on meeting academic requirements). And by training more nurses, we’re helping the communities in which they’ll be working.”
Neuser, a native of Manitowoc, is the Assistant Dean of Silver Lake College’s School of Professional Studies. She’s also a registered nurse and certified nurse educator who holds a master of science in nursing degree.
Neuser said she eagerly would have enrolled in Silver Lake College’s BSN program if it had been in existence when she graduated from Lincoln High School in 1994. It’s the only BSN program in a large region — encompassing south of Green Bay, north of Milwaukee and east of Lake Winnebago.
Now that the BSN program received approval from the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, Neuser’s top priority involves working on in-depth development of courses to include allocation of lab and clinical experience. She’s also in the process of hiring faculty members.
The nursing program and its state-of-the-art technology will be housed in a portion of the Main Hall’s third floor. Rooms are currently being cleared out in preparation for construction to begin in March. Silver Lake College is working closely with contractor C.D. Smith and Bray Architects.
Renovations will include:
* A multipurpose classroom — Students will engage in theory and hands-on learning in the same room.
* An active learning classroom — This area will simulate a physician’s exam room and feature an adjacent simulation lab with an accordion-style wall separating the two spaces.
* Two simulation labs — Students will immediately learn to work in a simulated patient setting with a high-fidelity mannequin — which will be run by a computer and incorporate advanced functions such as a chest wall that goes up and down, noticeable pulses and programmable heart, breath and bowel sounds, to name just a few of the many life-like features. “Our labs will help students develop confidence, critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can then be transferred to a real patient-care setting,” Neuser said.
* A debriefing/conference room — Enhanced audio-visual technology will enable students to watch live-streaming video of their classmates participating in simulation activities. In addition, students) can review their own simulation scenarios.
* A general science classroom — Both nursing and science courses will be held in this room.
* Student commons area — This space for relaxing and interacting with fellow students will be near several nursing offices and a meeting room for faculty and staff.
Silver Lake College’s BSN program will satisfy all of the requirements for nursing that are necessary for success on an NCLEX exam (licensure exam).
“But we’re also responding to the needs of nursing within their communities,” Neuser said. “So we’d like to see our students leave the program with the ability and capacity to take care of patients across the lifespan in any community — whether it be locally, regionally, nationally or internationally. We can provide them with an education to make them quality nurses, and we will also give them exposure to understand ethics and personal values and people in general — which aligns well with the vision and mission of Silver Lake College.”
Neuser noted that potential students and faculty members alike started inquiring about the BSN program within hours of hearing it had been approved.
“There’s a lot of excitement about this program,” Neuser said. “It’s great to know that we could be placing BSN-prepared students in communities to start helping people in two years — if they come in as a junior they could finish the program in two years. That’s how quickly we can be responding to the need for nurses.”
* If you are a student or potential faculty member seeking more information about Silver Lake College’s new Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, please contact program director Brianna Neuser at (920) 686-6213 or Brianna.Neuser@SL.edu.
* If you are interested in making a financial contribution to the BSN program, please contact Marc Barbeau, Vice President of Advancement and External Relations, at (920) 686-6176 or Marc.Barbeau@SL.edu.