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University of Mary preparing nurses ready to serve

by North Dakota Living Staff

Dr. Billie Madler, Universty of Mary Dr. Glenda Reemts, University of Mary
Dr Billie Madler
Dr. Glenda Reemts
(PH.D., RN)

With North Dakota communities – rural and urban – continuing to demand more nurses, the University of Mary is in an ever-ready response mode.

In addition, nurses the University of Mary is educating for North Dakota communities possess a strong service ethic.

“I think we are preparing the nurses that are ready to serve,” says Dr. Glenda Reemts, Ph.D., RN, chair of the Division of Nursing at the university.

“Our Benedictine values, espoused by our Benedictine sisters, are incorporated in every one of our classrooms and every one of our nursing practice experiences,” Reemts says.

Derived from the Rule of St. Benedict – the foundational code of spiritual direction for the religious order of nuns who founded the university – this set of values permeates nursing education there. The rule emphasizes hospitality, respect for person, prayer, service, moderation and community.

Reemts says the University of Mary is also focusing on training nurses to serve rural portions of North Dakota. Even as population dwindles in rural areas, health care service remains in high demand by residents who remain.

“We have a rural health rotation as one of the clinical rotations that students experience,” Reemts says, adding that nursing students may be assigned to one of five small North Dakota towns for this experience.

Reemts says the rural clinic assignment demands a variety of roles and methods student nurses call upon from their training. “In a rural setting, they might be the obstetrics nurse, or the medical nurse, or they are in the emergency room,” she says. “They are faced with that challenge of pulling together in one spot all areas that they have experienced in their education.”

Billie Madler, DNP, RN, FNP-C, chair of graduate nursing at the university, affirms that the graduate education for nurses sustains this focus on serving all North Dakota communities.

“Over the last two years, 41 percent of our nurse practitioner graduates have gone to work in rural and underserved areas,” Madler says. In addition to the doctoral family nurse practitioner program, the University of Mary offers several master’s of science in nursing programs, including: nursing management and leadership; nurse educator; and nursing infomatics.

Madler affirms that the emphasis on the university mission remains strong through the graduate nursing school level. “This university is extremely mission driven and student centered,” Madler says. “We are progressive and innovative, we have a tremendous set of resources, but we’re small and intimate.”

Madler says quality relationships – student to student, faculty to student, alumni to faculty – fuel this approach.

“This helps us prepare students who have the vision of service,” she continues. “We certainly live in a rural state, so we recruit rural students, and encourage these students to return to their rural locations, and bring with them the competencies they’ve gained through their education here.”

Madler says the University of Mary is the recent recipient of a grant from the federal Health Services Resources Administration, which is targeted at channeling nurse practitioners into rural areas.

Reemts indicates that the mission to serve is reinforced by academic excellence demonstrated by University of Mary nursing students. In 2016, 100 percent of the spring cohort of traditional undergraduate nursing candidates at the university passed the National Council Licensure Examination.

She says the educational approach is changing. “We want students to come to class prepared, versus just coming to class and we open their heads and pour in information.”

Reemts said the expectation is that the student will “think like a nurse.”

“We have activities that require them to think like a nurse. We have to teach them how to apply the knowledge they’ve learned in the classroom to a practical situation,” she says.

Both Reemts and Madler indicate that student access to educational materials via powerful information technology tools greatly augments the learning and clinical performance success of nursing students.

The University of Mary's main Bismarck campus is served by Capital Electric Cooperative.