Bethel Nursing Program Celebrates 25 Years and Largest Graduating Class

The Bethel College Nursing program celebrated its 25th nursing graduating class on May 1 in the Everest-Rohrer Chapel/Fine Arts Auditorium. The program also celebrated it largest pinning class in history with 113 students receiving their nursing degree. The first dean, Dr. Joyce Newman Giger, from UCLA was the speaker. A celebration reception followed the pinning ceremony.

A Brief History of Bethel’s School of Nursing

In the fall of 1981 Memorial Hospital of South Bend School of Nursing and Bethel College began negotiations for a cooperative program to allow diploma nursing graduates to matriculate into a college program for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In 1983 Joyce Newman Giger was appointed as the first chair of the Health Professions/Nursing Division at Bethel. Two years later, Jackie Burke and Linda Southwick graduated from the BSN program. The program soon received National League for Nursing approval in the fall of 1987.

In 1989 Bethel administrators met with Elkhart General Hospital concerning development of a joint Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. One year later, Ruth Davidhizer, RN, DNS, CS, FAAN, became the second dean of the School of Nursing. That same year, 32 students were accepted into the ADN program. Under Davidhizer’s direction, the nursing program received ADN accreditation by the Indiana State Board of Nursing and the NLN Board of review. A joint honor society between Saint Mary’s and Goshen College emerged and soon was chartered to the Sigma Theta Tau International as the Nu Omicron Chapter-at-large. In 1995 the first ADN and RN to BSN classes were accepted into the collaborative program at Ancilla College and then nine years later moved to Grace College. In 2004 the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program for Nurse Educators was accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Davidhizar then passed away in September of 2008 after serving Bethel for 18 years. Karon Schwartz, Ph.D., RN, Director of Graduate Nursing Programs, assumed the role of Interim Dean while the college conducted an intensive search for a permanent Dean. That same year the MSN program became accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Committee.

The Future of Bethel’s School of Nursing

Carol Dorough, Ed.D, has accepted the role of dean of the School of Nursing at Bethel and will begin on July 1 of this year. On Sept. 28 the NLNAC will conduct a site visit for reaccreditation for the BSN program.

For more information about Bethel’s nursing programs, visit Bethel offers entry level ADN and BSN, through MSN programs. All programs are offered on the Mishawaka, Ind, campus. The ADN and BSN completion programs are offered at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind. Additionally, the BSN completion program is offered at Lakeland Regional Health Systems in St. Joseph, Mich.

Bethel College is an accredited Christian college offering associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 70 areas of study. The current enrollment of more than 2,100 includes students from 34 states and Puerto Rico, 19 countries, more than 25 denominations and 16 percent from culturally diverse backgrounds. Scholarships are available based upon a variety of factors including academic achievement, talent in the arts or athletics, ethnicity and church affiliation. In addition to its beautifully wooded 75-acre main campus in Mishawaka, Ind., Bethel also offers specific academic programs at sites in Elkhart, Ind., Fort Wayne, Ind., Dowagiac, Mich., and St. Joseph, Mich. Nursing programs are also offered in cooperation with Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind.