Dr. Chris Domes (center), President of Silver Lake College, and Brianna Neuser, Assistant Dean of the School of Professional Studies, talk with Marc Barbeau, Vice President of Advancement and External Relations, about the new four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
By Benjamin Wideman / Director of Communications
MANITOWOC — Silver Lake College received a $1 million anonymous gift to support the launch of its new four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
“We greatly appreciate the generosity of this donor,” said Dr. Chris Domes, in his third year as president of Silver Lake College. “Not only are they helping to prepare high-quality nursing professionals who will serve Manitowoc County and the surrounding area, but they are also helping advance our mission as a college. We are very pleased to have this type of strong support from our community.”
The anonymous donor expressed confidence in Silver Lake College’s ability to respond to the nursing demand in this area, and the donor challenged the greater Manitowoc County community and Silver Lake College alumni to support the college’s efforts, as well.
“This lead gift is an investment not only in Silver Lake College, but the entire community,” said Marc Barbeau, the college’s vice president of advancement and external relations.
Silver Lake College’s board of trustees approved a proposal for the BSN program on May 22. The Wisconsin Board of Nursing approved Silver Lake College’s request for authorization to plan a new School of Nursing on Aug. 13. Currently, Silver Lake College personnel are developing a nursing curriculum, hiring faculty, securing clinical practicum sites and preparing for renovations to a section of the third floor in Main Hall, which is where the clinical skills and simulation labs will be based.
Official approval for the School of Nursing is anticipated in spring 2016, with the first group of nursing students expected to begin classes in fall 2016.
“Pending approval from the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, the new program will address the region’s growing need for nurses with bachelor’s degrees,” said Manitowoc native Brianna Neuser, assistant dean of Silver Lake College’s School of Professional Studies. She’s a certified nurse educator who holds a master of science in nursing degree.
“As the Manitowoc County population ages, significantly more patients will require additional health care services,” Neuser added. “Simultaneously, nurses in the profession will be retiring and creating even greater shortages of highly skilled health care workers.”
Manitowoc County has a disproportionate number of residents over the age of 65 compared to the rest of the state. According to 2013 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, 18.1 percent of Manitowoc County’s population is over the age of 65, compared with 14.8 percent across Wisconsin. As the county’s population ages, its elderly population will require greater access to acute care and nursing services.
In addition, the 2013 report projects that the state will see a 133 percent increase of residents age 85 and older by the year 2035.
Holy Family Memorial, a health care network in Manitowoc County, is one of the entities that will benefit from Silver Lake College’s nursing program.
“In today’s rapidly changing health care environment, the need for highly trained and knowledgeable nurses is evident as health care systems across the nation continue to see an increase in patients with multiple chronic health problems,” said Jane Curran-Meuli, HFM’s chief operating officer and executive vice president. “The nursing program at Silver Lake College will be a great addition to its already top-quality educational programs and help prepare the next generation of nursing professionals to meet the growing health care demands of our community.”
Added Domes: “We’re pleased that this effort with our nursing program is in concert with Holy Family Memorial, along with other regional health care providers. We are working directly with Holy Family Memorial on clinical sites for our students and continuing our outreach with other health care providers in the region.”
Silver Lake College is poised to quickly respond to this nursing shortage by launching its four-year BSN program — its graduates will have the opportunity to become advanced practice nurses, nurse educators, nurse administrators and nurse researchers. Graduates of the nursing program are likely to serve people in Wisconsin — a 2013 report by the Wisconsin Center for Nursing notes that 85.5 percent of Wisconsin nursing school graduates live and work in Wisconsin.
Silver Lake College’s short-term need for the nursing program through donor support is expected to total about $2.6 million. Of that amount, $1.2 million is targeted for project space renovation and lab equipment; $1.25 million will be directed to program development, operational support funding and faculty recruitment; and the remaining $150,000 will go to student scholarships.
Program labs will serve three major functions:
- A Patient Simulation Lab with a high-fidelity mannequin will simulate complex patient scenarios so students can practice their skills in a safe environment and reinforce critical thinking.
- A Health Assessment Lab, featuring examining tables and physical assessment equipment, enables students to practice taking medical histories and performing physical exams.
- A Nursing Skills Lab, which simulates a health care setting equipped with beds and mannequins, offers a place for students to improve patient safety and quality health care, communication and efficiency in the clinical setting.
The program provides eligibility to take the National Council Licensure Examination to be licensed as a Registered Nurse after course work completion. Clinical sites will be conducted at affiliated health care institutions in Manitowoc and surrounding counties.
Silver Lake College leadership said that strategic investments totaling an additional $5 million — for things like endowed faculty professorships and chairs, student scholarships and future technology upgrades — over the next three to five years will position the nursing program so that it can successfully respond to unforeseen economic trends, ongoing infrastructure upgrades and potential needs for increased educational capacity.