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SFU is Changing the Way Nurses Learn

September 18, 2019

SFU Nursing is Number One in the NationWritten by Kara Illig

SFU’s Nursing Program ranks number one in the nation, a distinction that doesn’t come without merit. Their unique, interprofessional curriculum has resulted in more well-prepared nurses who are entering the field sooner.

Receiving a national collegiate ranking of any kind is an academic feat, but the criteria by which the honor is determined far exceeds the prestige of the badge itself. When rncareers.org named the Saint Francis University BSN program as  number one in the United States based on the exemplary preparedness of the program’s graduating nurses and first-time NCLEX-RN pass rates, faculty and staff believed it to be a testament to both the curriculum and character of its renowned Nursing Department.  

Nursing department faculty at Saint Francis“Much of the program’s success can be attributed to the hard work of students, faculty, staff, and the support of administration,'' noted Dr. Rita Trofino, Associate Dean, School of Health Sciences & Education, and Nursing Department Chair.

This isn’t the first rankings list topped by Saint Francis. The Nursing program was also named the number one program in Pennsylvania by RegisteredNursing.org for the past two years in a row.

Such distinctions can be attributed to faculty’s understanding of the nursing industry’s challenges and needs, and their tailoring of curricula to meet those needs. According to the American Association of Colleges, there is a nationwide nursing shortage due to a lack of nurses “adequately prepared to meet certain areas of patient need in a changing health care environment.” 

“This shortage is especially acute with baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses," said Dr. Trofino. "The Institute of Medicine has the goal of having at least 80% of the RN workforce prepared at the baccalaureate level by 2020, and we are not near that goal.”

The new on-campus Health Sciences Experiential Learning Commons (ELC) provides a state-of-the-art, hospital-like setting that allows students to work interprofessionally in a way that simulates the collaborative process of caring for a patient. The ELC is equipped with several new high-functioning mannequins, a clinical skills lab, and a simulated apartment for students to practice providing care to patients in the home environment. 

The facility allows nursing students to work hands-on with students from other disciplines such as Physician Assistant Science, Physical Therapy, and Occupational Therapy, just as a professional nurse would in a hospital setting. This promotes better patient care and better patient outcomes in the hospital setting.

The unique experience students receive outside of the classroom is matched inside the classroom, with students beginning to prepare for their NCLEX-RN licensing exam during their junior year. The approach is effective, as SFU proudly touts a 100 percent NCLEX-RN first-time pass rate, five years in a row

Experiential Learning Commons photosDr. Trofino added, “No other program in Pennsylvania has done this. We pride ourselves on providing individual attention to students, helping them prepare for the NCLEX, and also with smaller classes and smaller clinical groups in  the hospital setting. Combining this with our caring curriculum and Franscisican values, this all contributes to NCLEX success, which translates to a RN who is safe and competent to care for patients.” 

Earlier this month, SFU held its traditional Nursing White Coat Ceremony that symbolically welcomed junior and senior students into the nursing profession. Dr. Donald Walkovich, Dean of the School of Health Sciences & Education, reminded the students that along with an extraordinary academic education, they would also receive Franciscan values to act as a moral compass during their health care careers. 

“As faculty, we try to instill not only the clinical knowledge you need, but also that Franciscan touch.” Referencing the Prayer of Saint Francis, Walkovich concluded, “As you continue through this year and next, I look forward to hearing about all the love, the pardon, the faith, the hope, the light, and the joy you bring to your patients.”

Nursing at Saint Francis

Tour the Experiential Learning Commons