Across the country, there is great need for well-trained nurses—a need that Karlae Callahan, Southwest Baptist University-Salem health professions coordinator, hopes the campus’ new LPN/Paramedic Bridge to RN program will help address.
“The bridge program is a way for students who are already LPNs or paramedics to advance their careers and study additional nursing courses so they can become RNs,” said Callahan, who began working on the program when she came to SBU-Salem in 2012. “The program gives students who have previous educational work credit for the first year of nursing classes that they would have had to take.”
Callahan, who lives in the Edgar Springs area with her husband, Terry, an SBU-Salem adjunct instructor, says that the program has been in the works for several years, and that its curriculum and structure is based on the bridge program offered through the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences of SBU in Springfield. The Missouri Board of Nursing approved the proposal for the program in March 2015 with full approval contingent upon a successful site visit to be scheduled late summer 2016. The plan is that the first class will begin fall 2016.
Callahan has personally experienced the benefits of pursuing advanced education. She began her nursing career as an LPN in 1992 before becoming an RN, after which point she worked in smaller hospitals across the state, eventually coming to Rolla to work as a pediatric nurse. She has also earned a master’s degree in nursing education, and is nearing completion of a family nurse practitioner program.
She believes that God has uniquely prepared her for nursing education through this combination of experiences.
“A long time ago, I said, ‘Lord, whatever you want me to do, I’ll do it,’” Callahan said. “I think that instead of only providing care to patients, which of course is greatly important, it’s really important to be able to impact the next generation of people who are going to be nurses.”
She believes that the ultimate goal of the program is to equip nurses to be servant leaders who are prepared to make a difference.
“We want to provide the community with the best qualified nurses out there,” she said. “We actually try to harness [students’] interest in wanting to help others. I foresee a really good group of students coming from this facility and going out and making a difference in the community, and that’s really what all nurses want to do.”
Undergraduate majors offered at SBU-Salem include business, criminal justice, elementary education, general studies, health science, psychology and sociology. Master degrees in education and educational administration also are available. Students who have already obtained an LPN or paramedic license may pursue an associate of science in nursing through the bridge program, scheduled to launch fall 2016; interested students may begin taking prerequisite courses as early as spring 2016. Bridge program students are eligible to concurrently enroll in SBU’s online BSN program, allowing them to work toward an ASN and a BSN.
For more information about attending SBU-Salem, contact Chris Welch, associate director of admissions at SBU’s Salem campus, at (573) 729-7071, send email to salem@SBUniv.edu, or visit salem.SBUniv.edu. For questions about the bridge program, contact Callahan at kcallahan@SBUniv.edu.