CCU's New Nursing Program Answer to 25 Years of Prayer

  • Dr. Barbara White, Dean of CCU's Nursing and Sciences Division
Colorado Christian University's trailblazing nursing program launching this fall has been three years in the planning -- and nearly 25 years in the praying.

"That's what God laid on our hearts in the mid 1980s, to teach nursing at CCU as a ministry," says Dr. Barbara White, professor and dean of the new nursing division.

Dr. White admits that, during the past quarter century, she sometimes wondered about his timing. She got discouraged at times, but she never stopped praying. Nor did a dozen others in the Nurses Christian Fellowship Group who shared her passion to bring a nursing program to CCU.

Why CCU? "Nursing has a soul," Dr. White says. "Obviously, the essence of nursing is being competent and scientifically well-versed in patient care. But the art of nursing is in relationship building, compassionate care for people, and the opportunity to touch people's lives at a deeper spiritual level."

The group felt strongly that nursing, with its spiritual side, needed to have a presence in a Christian setting, she explains. CCU was the only Christian evangelical university in the six-state region.

Now, she has to laugh: God wasn't moving slow -- he was creating a program worth waiting for. When CCU's nursing program launches as expected in fall 2010, it will be the only one in Colorado designed specifically for working adults. Thanks to satellite classrooms, online study options, and more than two dozen statewide locations for clinical experience, students can earn their degree while living virtually anywhere in Colorado.

The program comes along during a critical nursing shortage in the state. The numbers of available nurses is nearly 20 percent below the numbers needed, and due to get worse in the coming decade. What's more, there's a bottleneck for new nurses entering the field, because many existing university and college programs have long waiting lists.

During the long pause of 25 years, Dr. White earned a doctorate and a series of other impressive credentials, including a Fulbright scholarship. When CCU's program got the green light, her background made her a natural for the job of dean. It was something she never expected: "I never dreamed of being the dean. I just wanted to be part of it."

Now the program will get the benefit of her experience in global health, bioethics and genetics. She has had several teaching stints overseas, including a university post in Korea in 2006-2007. Her work in bioethics attracted the attention of the National Institutes of Health, which named her one of its "Faculty Champions," giving CCU special access to NIH's latest genetic research.

Dr. White's vision -- to prepare the next generation of Christian nurse leaders-- remains as fresh as when she began praying more than two decades ago: "God had to prepare all the circumstances just right. You can't just expect to walk in. You have to honor him every day while he's preparing for what he has in store. His timing is perfect."

CCU's offers several nursing programs through the University's College of Adult and Graduate Studies. Visit the CCU Nursing Programs website to learn more.

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