Oklahoma Christian University's nursing program began two years ago, and on April 25, the first nursing class will graduate and embark on a medical journey.
When the nursing program first started, they had 17 students, and with transfers and students dropping out, the graduating class will still be at 17.
Savannah Rust, one of the graduating seniors, first heard about the nursing program from Lisa McWhirter.
"There were about 15 of us that were going to have to leave to go to a different school for nursing, and she told me and some other girls that if we would stay, OC was going to start a nursing program," Rust said. "I was so happy because I didn't want to leave OC for nursing school, and to be able to stay has been such a blessing."
Linda Fly, director and assistant professor of nursing, received permission in the fall of 2006 to begin enrolling students.
"When the students first come to school, they are pre-nursing as freshman and sophomores. Then, they make an application and apply on a competitive basis," Fly said. "The students must maintain a high GPA and have made a 21 on the ACT."
As juniors and seniors, they are admitted to the nursing program.
During this time, they will gain experience in pediatric, OB, mental health, critical care, ER and the organ and transplant wards.
"On Mondays and Tuesdays, they will work a shift with a nurse the entire time and go to class the rest of the days," Fly said. "The hospital years are very busy; it's like an internship, but it's not paid. They look at drugs and get to start IVs. It's very hand- on while being supervised the entire time."
Toward the end of the program, the student will work a staff nurse's schedule for two weeks.
They begin with one patient and end with six before they graduate. "All this is preparation so they are competent and capable," Fly said.
It seems that the hard work has paid off for the graduating seniors because everyone has been offered a job.
After graduation, they must pass the national exam, NCLEX.
"Just because you have a college degree doesn't mean that you are competent. You must take the board of nursing exam, and then you are a nurse," Fly said. "You can't practice without taking the exam and being a RN."
Even with all the hard work, Rust is glad she made the decision to become a nurse.
"There have been lots of challenges the past two years, but I would never change it. We have been so close as a class and very close with the faculty," Rust said. "The faculty has been so supportive and has really been right by our sides, working extremely hard for us through this entire journey."
Rust also appreciates the small class size and having the opportunity to bond with her peers.
"Every one of my classmates means something special to me because I have had the chance to go though different clinicals, projects and late night study sessions with all of them," Rust said.
Following the graduation ceremony, the nursing class will be given their own special pinning ceremony at 5:30 in the student center.
"The tradition started with Florence Nightingale. After students went through the educational program they were pinned, similar to a class ring with the seal," Fly said. "It's a special ceremony that illustrates to the public that they have met the academic requirements and show that they have graduated from a reputable university. We will have a lighting of the light of knowledge in acknowledgement to care for the sick and affirmed, and the students will receive the Nightingale pledge and end with the nurse's prayer."
Fly has been very impressed with this year's graduating class.
"The maturity level and commitment has been very inspiring to the faculty," Fly said. "They really have a desire to go out and provide a Christian service."
This is a monumental step for Oklahoma Christian, and Rust is proud to be a part of it.
"I am so honored to be part of the first graduating class," Rust said. "These two years have been an adventure for sure, and I also look forward to class reunions in the future."