Plans for Lee University’s nursing program continue to accelerate as director Dr. Sarah Campbell prepares for presentations to both the Board of Nursing and SACS accreditation.
Campbell was announced as the director at the start of the fall semester three months ago.
“It wasn’t something that I was actually looking for. When I saw something was available to start a new nursing program, I had all of these reasons for why I shouldn’t look at it,” Campbell said. “What I found out was I just felt like God kept tapping me on the shoulder and making me realize [Lee University] was where I needed to be.”
The application and interview process allowed her a glimpse into the institution and Cleveland. She was not disappointed by what she found in either. Living in southeast Tennessee would be a new experience and starting a nursing program would be phenomenal.
Campbell was hired. She has since set up camp and began feverishly working on everything from the program’s curriculum to the conceptual framework. Both visiting high school students and Lee University undergrads have expressed their interest in the program.
Their excitement is contagious.
“There are days where I just feel honored and humbled to be in this position and it feels like a huge responsibility,” Campbell said. “I am not doing this alone and I am really praying over this program and for the students who will be coming into these doors. I am excited about this.”
Campbell initially began her career helping out part-time at a nursing home. She later became a licensed practical nurse and had the opportunity to work in a variety of areas including mental health, the emergency department and intensive care. Her latest position was as a professor of nursing and the chief academic officer in the School of Nursing at the University of South Carolina at Aiken.
She is eager to share her experiences with students.
“When faculty are able to share those experiences, it brings it to life for students. I’ve worked in a variety of experiences since leaving school,” Campbell said. “Nurses are very privileged to be taking care of patients at a [vulnerable] time in their lives. That is a real privilege. I want [students] to understand that throughout their practice.”
Campbell’s curriculum vitae provides insight into why she was hired. Over the course of her career, she has collaborated with others to raise over $2 million in grants. Her background includes years of program development and nursing education. She has served in leadership roles in a variety of schools to include dean, interim director and coordinator.
According to Campbell, her most important strength cannot be found on her vitae. It is her desire and ability to think outside of the box.
“I like to not have change for the sake of change. I like to really assess what is really happening, to look at the big picture,” Campbell said. “I am always looking for different ways of doing something and I am not bound to the way we have always done it.”
She will look for similar qualities in the nursing program’s faculty.
“I am looking for the best experiences for students and faculty,” Campbell said. “Because healthcare is changing so rapidly, nursing education needs to change rapidly.”
A recent report released by the Institute of Medicine called for radical change in how nurses are educated and their clinical experiences. Older nursing professionals might find it difficult to make the dramatic shift.
“Doing things how we’ve always done things is not keeping with health care today,” Campbell said. “As I am looking for faculty, I want people who are excited and innovative and not afraid to try some new practices.”
A main goal for the program includes teaching future nurses to operationalize caring for vulnerable populations at any stage in the patient’s lifespan. The curriculum will also address how to take care of patients from a Christian worldview.
Campbell will present the program to the Board of Nursing in February. If approved by the board and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools then Lee will be free to open enrollment.
According to a press release published in the Banner earlier this year, the nursing school plans to admit 60 new students each year: 40 for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and 20 for the Registered Nurses to BSN track.
The release said the school plans to have 240 students and seven full-time faculty members by 2018.