January 19, 2007

Fisk students get started at VUSN

Featured Image

Fisk University students at last week’s VUSN orientation were (back row, from left) Whitney Weatherspoon, Sheena Jordan, Rolanda Johnson, Ph.D., (VUSN/Fisk faculty member), Courtney Hines, Brittany Briggs, (front row, from left) Whitnee Hibbler and Charnese Herring.
Photo by Susan Rumy

Fisk students get started at VUSN

Vanderbilt University School of Nursing welcomed its first class of Fisk University students this semester.

The Fisk students, like the school's incoming class of Lipscomb students, are third-year undergraduates who are taking nursing courses at VUSN and will graduate from their home institutions with a baccalaureate degree in nursing.

“We are delighted to welcome this entire group of highly motivated nursing students to our school for the next two years,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics for VUSN. “They will learn from the best instructors in the area and will be well equipped to launch their careers in nursing.”

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is offering these undergraduates a loan forgiveness program to cover the difference in tuition between Fisk and VUSN. All six Fisk students and a majority of the Lipscomb students have agreed to work at VUMC for two years upon graduation to compensate for their additional tuition.

“It's a win-win situation,” said Debianne Peterman, Ph.D., M.S.N., director of Nursing Education and Development. “The students have their financial stress taken away, and we can count on getting well-educated, highly motivated new nurses in our medical center.”

“Our Fisk students are making history as the first in this innovative partnership,” said Rolanda Johnson, Ph.D., who has a joint appointment at Fisk and VUSN. “These students are drawn to nursing to help underserved populations, and they can have a great impact on health care disparities.”

Whitney Weatherspoon has a chronic blood disease and remembers being in and out of hospitals when she was a child. She is pursuing her nursing degree with the goal of working in pediatric hematology.

“I was treated so well in the hospital,” Weatherspoon said. “The nurses were always there, and I realized what a difference they can make with every patient. That's what I want to do.”

Fisk University is one of the nation's leading historically African-American colleges and was founded in 1866 in Nashville. More than 70 percent of Fisk graduates go on to attend graduate and professional schools. The university's student retention rate ranks among the top 4 percent of all U.S. colleges and universities.