Huntington University is a Christian liberal arts college in Indiana

The Growth Model:

Nursing student gains confidence through patient interaction
Stephanie Dooley on advantages of nursing degree program at Huntington University, a Christian college.

“The professors are all interested in getting to know you and are very focused on helping you in any way possible.”

As Stephanie (Dooley) Datema served soup and distributed medical supplies to the homeless in inner-city Boston, her future came into focus. This wasn’t just a one-time mission trip for her. This was a life-long career.

“I wanted to be a part of caring for those people because they typically don’t get the best care,” she said. “That population is underserved, and they get overlooked.”

Enrolling at Huntington University in fall 2007, Datema first chose a pre-med/biology major. But after a few weeks, she saw an announcement on Huntington University’s web site about a nursing major that was being offered for the first time to the 2011 graduating class. She knew that becoming a nurse would allow her to still provide medical care for the underserved but also have a more flexible schedule so that she could raise a family. Within a few weeks, she switched to nursing, and this May, she will be one of the first students to graduate from the program.

For four years, Datema has trained with the help of simulated mannequins and hands-on patient care in a variety of clinical settings such as nursing homes, hospitals and community health facilities.

“Our lab provides an excellent resource for students to learn their skills,” she said.

Datema has even helped organize the Nursing Student Council which is a student-led organization that provides an opportunity for students to express ideas for improving the program.

“I feel like it’s a really special opportunity to get to help set traditions and help set the expectations for the classes ahead,” she said.

She credits the helpfulness of the nursing professors for the positive experiences she has had while attending HU, even helping her find a job at Parkview Huntington Hospital over the summer months.

“The professors are all interested in getting to know you and are very focused on helping you in any way possible,” Datema said.

Nursing instructor Diana Shenefield encouraged her to apply for an opening for a nursing assistant at Parkview Huntington Hospital where Shenefield also works as an as-needed nurse. Datema was hired and has continued to work at the hospital into the school year on an as-needed, on-call basis.

“I enjoy getting to see how all the pieces that I’m learning about right now fit together,” Datema said. “I’ve been able to see a lot of different conditions and learn a lot about different disease processes which has been very helpful.”

As a nursing assistant, Datema takes vital signs, delivers meals, answers patients’ call bells and reports patient concerns to the full-time nurse.

This semester, she is also completing one of her adult health clinical experiences at Parkview Huntington Hospital.

“I would have been a lot less confident in the clinical setting if I hadn’t worked in a health care field this summer,” she said. “Going into a patient room (now), I feel confident.”

Datema’s experience in the hospital setting has encouraged her to continue to work toward her goal of caring for underserved populations after graduation.

“I definitely want to work with the poor and underserved,” she said. “I’d really like to work, eventually, overseas.”

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