Preparing for a Life of Service

Nursing program focuses on servanthood

PILOT Spring 2013
By Ben Bradbury '09

Northwestern’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program officially launched in May and has all the impressive features of a world-class academic program.

Take, for example, the credentials of the department chair, Ginger Wolgemuth: an R.N. with a Ph.D., Wolgemuth has experience teaching and writing curricula at several Christian colleges.

Janet Sommers, Ph.D., affirms Wolgemuth as the right person for the job. “Dr. Wolgemuth is a strong leader, characterized by vision, perseverance and fortitude,” said Sommers, senior vice president for academic affairs.

New state-of-the-art nursing facilities include a classroom with floor-to-ceiling whiteboards, an eight-bed clinic lab and more—all the equipment students will need to practice their chosen profession, including life-sized, computerized mannequins that mimic the medical conditions of patients.

“This guy can talk, sweat, cry,[and his] pupils dilate,” Wolgemuth explained about one of the department’s dolls. “You can take pulses all the way down to his toes!”

Additionally, the program is taught on an accelerated track to help students save money and enter their careers faster. Students who meet the prerequisites can complete the coursework in just 16 months, attending class yearround from one summer through the next.

More than credentials and facilities

But for Wolgemuth, the most important aspect of Northwestern’s nursing program is the biblically based curriculum. “It’s all about service and servanthood,” she said. She is passionate about the curriculum, in part, because its creation was a profound, spiritual experience for her.

The curriculum plan “came” to Wolgemuth last summer. Having attempted to write the plan to no avail throughout the week, she left her office one Friday feeling discouraged. When she got home she began reading her Bible but her frustration only increased.

Studying a passage about Christ’s resurrection, Wolgemuth recalled with candor, “I was a little cocky, and I said, ‘Well, this is great, Lord, but this is not helping me with the curriculum.’

“Instantaneously, the entire curriculum came into my mind like a download ... the next thought I had was the Lord saying to me, ‘You don’t think I have the power to help you in this?’’’

Wolgemuth wrote furiously until 2 a.m. After sleeping only a few hours, she woke up and began writing again. By 1 a.m. Monday, the curriculum road map was complete.

Essential questions

The nursing curriculum asks and answers nine questions, two of which are of particular prominence to Wolgemuth:

  • With whom do we serve?
  • To whom are we accountable when we serve?

The answers to these questions reveal what makes the program distinctive.

First, as they develop as nursing professionals, students will serve with interprofessional health-care teams made up of Christians in the medical field—doctors, physical therapists, chaplains and others—who will meet regularly with students to discuss their professions. The answer to the second question is even more pivotal. In addition to instilling the importance of accountability to patients, the curriculum points clearly to the future nurses’ ultimate accountability to Jesus Christ.

“We want the students to understand that it’s what they do in their spiritual lives that’s going to drive what they do professionally, and not vice versa,” Wolgemuth passionately explained.

“Nursing as a whole is not a calling—it’s a profession. But when God calls, it transforms our lives, and in transforming our lives, we can be His hands and feet to minister to others.” 

Sommers is pleased with how the program has come together, but not surprised. “From the very beginning of this process, we committed Northwestern’s BSN program to the Lord,” Sommers said, “and we have continually gone before His throne, asking Him to intercede and bless the development of our program. He has been overwhelmingly faithful!"