Alicia Collins ‘21
Arts and Entertainment Editor
With the goal of having Merrimack College’s undergraduate student population continue to grow, the college has added a new Nursing Major to the School of Health Sciences and a brand new building. Nursing will be a competitive option for prospective first-year students.
Among the class of 2023, 47 first year students are majoring in nursing. Even though the class is small at the moment, the program wanted to start with less to give students the individualized attention that, as a whole, Merrimack College is known for doing. Nursing intends to bring in 60 more students next year.
Dr. Lynn Sheppard is the Executive Director of Nursing and a Clinical Associate Professor. Sheppard was apart of the Saint Anselm College’s Nursing Program for eight years and served as its Program Coordinator prior to talking the role at Merrimack College.
According to Sheppard, what sets Merrimack College apart from other nursing programs at other colleges and universities is the real experience students will get even before doing their clinical hours. Students will do this in the brand new facilities housed in the nursing building. Sheppard explains that the building will have six simulation labs that will be displayed exactly like a hospital would be set up. Students will get a feel for what a hospital is like without the stressor of dealing with real-life patients. This also allows students to make mistakes in a low-stress environment so they can learn prior to their clinical hours.
Sheppard also explains that in the medical field medication errors are the number one mistake that physicians make. Merrimack’s program will address this issue head on. The lab will have a simulation machine that will be identical to the medication machine in hospitals. Students will not only learn how to distribute and measure the proper dosage, but also to do this in pressure situations that will be created by their classmates.
As the nursing program looks to the future, Sheppard stresses the idea that Merrimack’s program is much different than other programs because of the community of the campus as a whole. This has also made nursing students feel very welcomed and supported by their peers and professors as well.
The Nursing Program will be hosting a White Coat Ceremony on January 26, 2020. This ceremony brings in humanism to the major, according to Sheppard. All students will receive a white coat to signify their entry into practice as they start clinicals this coming spring. This is earlier compared to other schools, but the program wants their students to be involved with real world experience as soon as possible. Starting students with the basics of introducing themselves to a patient is key for their long-term success as nurses.