August 6, 2004

Nursing students ‘cross the bridge’

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Left to right: Corey M. Slovis, M.D., attending physician; Diane Adcox, R.N., staff registered nurse; Breanne Fryz, R.N., advanced practice nurse; and George Lee, M.D., house staff, show their new badges. Photo by Anne Rayner

Nursing students ‘cross the bridge’

A group of 144 students in the School of Nursing officially “crossed the bridge” to move from a general nursing course of study into their selected nursing specialties last week, marking the end of their first year of the nursing program.

VUSN’s bridge program allows students with at least 78 semester hours of credit, an associate degree in nursing, or a bachelor’s degree in a field unrelated to nursing to enroll at the school and earn a Master of Science in Nursing degree. After a year of pre-specialty nursing courses, “bridge” students participate in the crossing the bridge ceremony and are awarded a gift of recognition from the nursing faculty.

Colleen Conway-Welch, Ph.D., Nancy and Hilliard Travis professor and Dean of VUSN, congratulated the students for their accomplishments. “It’s hard to realize that about 10 months ago I was welcoming you to Vanderbilt and many of you weren’t nurses prior to coming here. Nursing is one of the best kept secrets, and advanced practice nursing is an even better kept secret,” Conway-Welch said.

Students chose several nursing faculty members for special awards recognizing their contributions. Judy Sweeney, M.S.N., associate professor and director of the pre-specialty program, was given the Julia Hereford Award, for her work with students outside the classroom and clinical setting. James Pace, who has a doctorate of science in Nursing and a Master of Divinity, and is director of the new palliative care focus in the adult nurse practitioner specialty, was chosen for the Sara K. Archer Award. The award is given in recognition of outstanding contributions in student and scholarly activities related to graduate students. Maria Overstreet, M.S.N., instructor in clinical Nursing, was given the Excellence in Clinical Instruction award.

Suzanne Baird, M.S.N., instructor in Nursing, was recognized for her contributions in classroom teaching, with the Shirley Titus Award. Two students were awarded a special gift by former VUSN Dean Luther Christman, the first male dean of a school of nursing in the country. Tracie Doyle and Yuki Fujimura were chosen by faculty for the award, marking the first time two students have been honored.

The bridge students will have approximately three weeks before they will be expected to return to the School of Nursing to begin the fall semester and their second and final year in one of the nursing specialties they have selected.