The first graduating class of LTU’s nursing program walked across the virtual stage on May 8, 2021, proud of what it had accomplished in the past four years and excited for what’s ahead. Ian Cudney, Class of ’21, a Blue Devils football player and a nursing graduate, says that LTU gave him the opportunity of a lifetime.
“I was recruited by LTU to play the sport I love, and the nursing professors and Dr. Jamison structured the program so I could practice and play and learn as well.” The Arizona native received scholarships from other universities, but they tried to dissuade him from a nursing career due to the workload. “Lawrence Tech and Dr. J and all the professors are flexible for all the athletes. We never really had to sacrifice sports for education,” Cudney said. “With the help of Dr. J, I have accepted my dream job. I always wanted to work in the emergency room. After working in Ascension’s emergency room, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!”
Dr. Therese Jamison , head of LTU’s nursing program, explained, “We’re all about diversity and inclusion - 25% of our students are ethnically and racially diverse; 26% are men while the national average of male nursing students is only 11%; and 46% are athletes, both men and women.” The nursing program boasts a 99% retention rate.
Here’s why: The student is in the middle. The program is structured around the individual. After all, LTU teaches relationship-based care using a patient care model that puts patients and their families at the center of their training. It’s no wonder that students are cared for as their future patients will be cared for.
Meet Destiny Smith, a single mom who delivered her firstborn child in the middle of the semester. After the delivery, she needed to bring her little one to class. Smith had several volunteers to help carry the baby! “At most universities, no children are allowed in class. But here, we respond to the needs of our students. Needing some privacy for Destiny to breastfeed her baby,” Jamison said, “we now have a room for student-moms to do that.”
Another student had to bring her six-year-old son to the pinning ceremony. Now at nine years old, he was proud to attend his mom’s graduation ceremony.
What’s the “value add” for LTU nursing students? Relationships.
Dr. Therese Jamison
Speaking of relationships, one of the most productive in the country has been established between LTU’s nursing program and Ascension Health. It’s known as an academic practice partnership. Many universities have affiliations, but this partnership directly benefits our nursing students as well as Ascension. Ascension Michigan has made a financial investment in the program and LTU students work in real jobs that bring their classroom and clinical studies to the bedside. During the resurgence of the pandemic in December 2020, 25 LTU nursing students worked in Ascension’s ICUs, emergency rooms, and medical surgical units.
Upon graduation in May 2021, 24 of the 26 students were hired by Ascension, another testament to Lawrence Tech’s theory and practice education and the beneficial partnership with one of America’s foremost health organizations.
"Ascension Michigan is proud to be partnered with Lawrence Technological University in educating students to become compassionate and skilled nurses--something the healthcare industry desperately needs as all health systems continue to work through the current nursing shortage," said Maureen "Mo" Chadwick, PhD, MSN, RN, NE-BC, chief nursing officer of Ascension Michigan.
As one of the top 25 nursing education programs in the state, both Ascension Michigan and LTU have a shared commitment to excellence and to meeting the healthcare demands of the future.
In June 2021, LTU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program received full accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) through June 2026, a milestone achievement.
CCNE, officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education, serves the public interest as an autonomous accrediting agency. It assesses and identifies programs that provide effective educational practices and ensures the quality and integrity of baccalaureate, graduate, and residency programs in nursing.
Ian Cudney, student
LTU’s program was ranked No. 22 among 76 nursing education programs in Michigan, according to Nursing Schools Almanac. That ranking was conferred before the first class even graduated and was based on the unique partnership with Ascension Health, the reputation of LTU, and the foundations of the program and instructors.
With the dire shortage of nurses, it made sense for LTU, a technological university, to establish its nursing program five years ago. Nursing has a basis in technology. It’s high tech and high touch. Jamison explained that LTU is a unique environment. Good communication and good core training leads to good outcomes. And she says, “We’re breaking down barriers for men in nursing!”
Soon to be introduced at LTU are graduate programs for physician assistant, human nutrition, and cardiac perfusion, reflecting a commitment by LTU to foray into the health-related professions in a major way. So, along with answering the call to train more nurses for the future, Lawrence Tech has recognized the need for education in these other, much-needed healthcare professions.
by Renée Ahee