By Melissa Schill
On Wednesday, Feb. 12, Wheaton College and Elmhurst College signed an agreement giving liberal arts nursing majors the opportunity to receive their bachelor’s degree from Wheaton in three years, then go on to get their master’s degree in nursing from Elmhurst in two years.
“I am delighted that we are able to partner with Elmhurst College,” Provost Margaret Diddams said. “In this way, students receive Wheaton’s excellent liberal arts education and are able to complete their professional training with the top notch nursing faculty at Elmhurst and state of the art facilities at Edward-Elmhurst Hospital.”
Although Wheaton has agreements like this with a few other local colleges, the Elmhurst program is unique in that students are able to keep their Wheaton financial aid package and live on campus for four years before fully transferring for their fifth and final year.
Health Professions Director Candice Eisenhauer saw the need for a 3-2 nursing option and set the program into motion. “In talking with prospective and current students, a number of students didn’t choose the liberal arts nursing major because they’d have to transfer after three years,” Eisenhauer said. This has negatively affected the program in past years; Eisenhauer said 12-18 freshmen come in as undeclared liberal arts nursing majors, but typically only half of that group end up declaring the major because they don’t want to transfer after three years.
Sophomore Katie Bristol hoped to be a liberal arts nursing major but chose instead to be an applied health sciences major because she did not want to leave Wheaton a year early. However, with the new 3-2 program with Elmhurst, she is considering switching back to liberal arts nursing.
There was an initial meeting about creating the program in May 2019 and plans became solidified last December. “The process has gone really quickly,” Eisenhauer said. “I have been really impressed by the Elmhurst faculty. I feel like the culture in their nursing program is very similar to Wheaton’s in their desire to care for students and walk alongside them. I feel confident with not only the education the students are going to get, but the care that they’ll receive.”
Freshman Lily Folkerts visited Elmhurst College, which is located about ten miles east of Wheaton, with Eisenhauer and nine other students who are interested in applying for the 3-2 program. She chose to be a liberal arts nursing major because of the holistic nature of the program. “Liberal arts isn’t about what education can give to you, but what you can give others through your experiences and what you learn. I think that’s pretty much the whole purpose and art of nursing,” Folkerts said.
“I feel really connected to Wheaton and it’s only my first year; I wouldn’t want to leave,” Folkerts said. “I think for choosing the program at Elmhurst, there’s just a lot of pros to it with transportation and having opportunities at Wheaton and Elmhurst at the same time. It offers a little more familiarity.”