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Winter 2014

Mercy College Alumni Magazine

Growth Through Cultural Immersion


Spreading Their Wings


Three Catholic Institutions partner to Help Cultivate the Next Generation of Health Care Workers


Reaffirming Our Students’ Success in Health Sciences


Cover and this page: Botanical Garden at Naat Ha near Maxcana, Yucatan. Photo by Jim Tagye

Volume 11, Issue 1, Winter 2014 Š Copyright 2014 Vitalsigns is published by the Office of External Affairs. Send changes of address to the Office of External Affairs, Mercy College of Health Sciences, 928 6th Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa 50309-1239.


Publisher Barbara Q. Decker, JD

Editor Brian P. Tingleff

Associate Editor Jim Tagye VitalSigns Winter 2014

Writers Debra Steilen Jim Tagye Brian Tingleff Photography Jorge PeĂąa Acosta Jim Heemstra Jim Tagye Graphic Designer Melissa Miller

Features Spreading Their Wings


Stories of three alumni after completing their Bachelor of Science in Health Science.

Three Catholic Institutions partner to Help Cultivate the Next Generation of Health Care Workers


Seeding the field for the next generation of Catholic healthcare leaders starting in high school.

Growth Through Cultural Immersion


International course sparks new learning options about healthcare outside the U.S.

Reaffirming Our Students’ Success in Health Sciences


10 years after our last Higher Learning Commission visit, the campus gears up to host another visit team.

A New World of Possibilities


Pathways Program opens the door to healthcare careers for 180 refugees and immigrants from 33 countries.

Message from the President


Campus News and Updates


Third-Party Comment Sought for HLC


A Board Member’s Philanthropy


Students Earn National Recognition


Alumni Happenings


Alumni News and Notes


The Holy Spirit at Work in the Classroom


College Board of Directors It is the Mercy College policy to conduct academic programs and business activities in a manner that is free from discrimination and to provide equal opportunity for and equal treatment of students regardless of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, creed, physical or mental disability, status as a disabled veteran or veteran of war, or any other factor protected by law.

Desmund D. Adams, JD

Sr. Jude Fitzpatrick, CHM

Elisabeth C. Buck

Jeff Flora


Laurie Conner

Martin Larréy, PhD

Vice Chair

Barbara Q. Decker, JD

Glenn Lyons

Diana Deibler Board Chair Willard (Bill) L. Boyd III,

Diane Huber, PhD, RN, FAAN, NEA-BC

(Ex Officio)

Stephen Eckstat, DO,

Robyn H. Wilkinson (Ex Officio)

Sharon Phillips, RN



Thomas Reitinger

Merle T. Pederson, JD Treasurer

Jacquie Easley McGhee

Mary Sheldahl

Sister Maurita Soukup,



Message from the President

Message from the President As I prepare this message in the days following the fall semester, we are finishing a wonderful term filled with hope and excitement for the new career education just begun by many on campus. It is also the season of Advent, a time when we await the birth of our Savior and Lord. This will be a special spring semester, as we await the arrival of a site visit team from The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), expected to review the operations of the College. It has been 10 years since the last HLC re-accreditation visit and there is much to share with the team. In fact, one of the days in March, we will be inviting the public, including all of our communities of interest, to speak with team members about your interactions with the College. The details of that meeting have not been settled at this writing, but you can visit our website in February for more information. The HLC visit will be the third accreditation visit of the academic year for the College, and thus the reason for our campus ministry theme for 2013-14 “Gold Tested in Fire (Wisdom 3:6).” We set high standards for ourselves – working to uphold a “gold standard” for health science education. We know that many rely on us to stay attuned to the ever changing environment of healthcare and higher education. We remain ready for the “fires” of each academic review. I would be remiss if I did not mention the success of our first two accreditation visits this year. In May 2012, Mercy College was admitted, as an associate member, to the Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE). The organization had recently established a review process for its members, and we sought out an opportunity to participate in their Mission Accountability Self-study and Site Visit Process when we hosted a team in September 2013. The visit focused on our efforts to live our Catholic higher education mission as articulated in Ex Corde Ecclasiae and in particular the special charisms of the Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM) who founded - more than 100 years ago - the educational programs we cherish as our legacy. I’m pleased to report that we received the official confirmation from the Board of Directors of CMHE on December 16, 2013, affirming a positive outcome to the review process. CMHE also shared the visiting team report with the National Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, who also affirmed our efforts at living up to the high standards and ideals of the Community. Only a few weeks later, we did it all again with our second site visit for the year. In early October, a team from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) were on campus to re-accredit our Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree program. The visiting team had many wonderful things to say during their exit presentation, and we expect further positive news from ACEN by summer 2014. I am especially pleased to share this latest issue of VitalSigns with you. It has been awhile since our last edition and there are many wonderful stories to share, including news of the successful conclusion of our federal grant working with refugees and immigrants, the wonderful growth and success of our newest academic program, and our grant-funded project working with Dowling Catholic High School. As always, I invite you to contact me with your ideas or suggestions.


VitalSigns Winter 2014

Kasaundra Adams, MSN Assistant Professor Kasaundra joined Mercy in August, 2013 as an assistant professor in Nursing. She graduated with her Masters in Nursing- Education track in 2011 and is getting ready to start her PhD. Kasaundra lives in Indianola to be closer to her father and enjoys hanging out with her friends and spoiling her 2 cats.

Completion Program. Her career experiences include critical care, working with a head and neck surgeon, and pain management. Jane is a Mercy Diploma in Nursing class of 1981. She then completed her BSN at Drake University and her MSN at the University of Iowa. Jane is currently working on her EdD at the College of Saint Mary. In her free time Jane enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

certificate in Entrepreneurship from the University of Iowa. While attending school, she also worked at The University of Iowa Research Foundation. Kayla lives in Des Moines with her husband and cat. She enjoys volunteering at her church, and watching college sports.

Campus News & Updates

New Faces on Campus He earned a B.A. in English from Central Connecticut State University, an M.A. in English from the University of South Dakota, and an MLS from the University of Southern Mississippi. Roy has led multiple student cross-cultural trips to China and served as an exchange professor at Wuhan University of Technology. He enjoys writing poetry, visiting his grandchildren in Ames, and training in traditional Okinawan karate.

Marla Inks, MA, NCC Counselor

Jeff Bouzek, MBA Director of Information Technology Jeff joined Mercy College in July 2012 as the first Director of Information Technology. Jeff has a BA double major in Computer Science and History from Ripon College and an MBA from Viterbo University. Jeff’s priorities for Mercy College have been to update all areas of technology on campus including an online information system called MyMercy, web registration, online bill paying, and updating the College’s student information system.

Bao Diep, BA Technology Specialist Bao joined Mercy College in July 2013 as a technology specialist. His role in the department is to provide desktop support and updating computers. Bao holds a BA in Management Information Systems from Grand View University and an AAS degree from DMACC. Bao lives in Des Moines, where he spends his time with his family and learning about new technologies.

Marla joined the Student Success Center team as Counselor in August 2013. She has achieved the National Certified Counselor designation and holds a State of Iowa Master Educator License. Marla holds a Master’s in Counseling and Human Development from The University of Iowa, and currently participates in “Prairie Fire”, a 3-year spiritual development program. Marla enjoys reading, music, traveling with her husband, Jeff, and time with her canine and feline companions, Wyatt, Leo, and Stanley.

Vanessa Preast, DVM, Director of Distance Education and Teaching/ Learning


Vanessa joined Mercy College in July 2013 as the Director of Distance Education and Teaching/Learning. Vanessa holds a BS in Animal Science from University of Florida, a DVM from University of Florida, and a PhD in Education (Curriculum and Instructional Technology) from Iowa State University. She lives in Ames, where she enjoys creating artwork in hot glass, taking part in the Maker Movement, and trying out a new hobby every few months.

Kayla Galoso, BA Jane DeGooyer, RN-BC, MSN Assistant Professor Jane joined Mercy College in August 2013 as an Assistant Professor in the BSN

Programmer Analyst Kayla joined Mercy College in March 2013 as a Programmer Analyst. She holds a BA in Informatics with a focus in Health Sciences and a

Roy Meador III, MLS, MA Director of Library & Media Services Roy began work at Mercy College in February 2013.


Campus News & Updates

Leah Wafful, MAE Student Success Coordinator

Leah joined Mercy College in October 2013 as the Success Coordinator with the Steps to Success Program. Leah comes from Fort Dodge, Iowa. Leah attended Iowa Central Community College after graduating high school. She transferred to the University

of Northern Iowa in August of 2009. She finished her BA in Communication Studies in May of 2011. She recently finished graduate school in May of 2013 with her Masters of Arts in Education: Student Affairs. Leah’s biggest accomplishment was traveling to Belize in June 2012. There she spent a month educating young women on the importance of health education and encouraging them to dream big!

Caitlyn Zimmermann, MA

Education from Ball State University. She and her husband live in Ankeny where they enjoy exploring all that Des Moines has to offer and being close to family and friends.

Academic Advisor Caitlyn joined Mercy College in August 2013 as an Academic Advisor in the Student Success Center. Caitlyn holds a B.A. from Iowa State University in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English and a M.A. in Student Affairs Administration in Higher

Employment Opportunities at Mercy College Mercy College is focused on providing the best education for our students. We hire only the most qualified individuals who support our desire to ensure our students are well prepared in their chosen healthcare field. For more detailed information about each position visit our website at To apply, go to the Mercy Medical Center’s website at Applicants will be asked to complete an Applicant Assessment Survey to be considered for the position.


Mercy College offers a competitive compensation and benefit package, along with: • medical plan • dental plan • vision plan • life insurance • spending accounts • paid time off • retirement program with 401k option • adoption assistance • personal tuition assistance for advanced degree completion


• tuition exchange programs for college-bound dependents with over 500 colleges and universities across the country offering reduced or waived tuition • wellness programming including discounted membership rates to Des Moines area YMCAs and incentives to help lower medical plan premiums • free campus parking

VitalSigns Winter 2014

Full-Time Positions Dean, School of Allied Health Program Chair, Nursing Program Chair, Surgical Technology Ultrasound Clinical Coordinator, Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program (DMS) Online Marketing Specialist Admissions Counselor Nursing Instructor

Adjunct Faculty Positions Nursing Instructors CPR, ACLS and PALS Instructors

Campus News & Updates

In Memory — Glenn O. Oren, PhD

June 26, 1951 – December 16, 2012

Glenn O. Oren, Professor of Physics, joined the staff of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences in the summer of 2003. Dr. Oren earned his Bachelor of Science in 1976, a Master of Science in Forestry in 1987 and a Doctor of Philosophy in Wood Science in 1994, each degree earned from Iowa State University. Dr. Oren also founded his own company, Oren Consulting Services, which conducted federal research as a principal investigator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. After completing his undergraduate degree, Dr. Oren worked as a chemist for the Ames Laboratory, teaching undergraduate students in micro-chemical analysis. Oren was instrumental in creating the first dedicated chemistry laboratory for Mercy College in summer 2003 located at Mercy Capitol on the east side of downtown Des Moines, in response to enrollment growth in the sciences. He was a member of Xi Sigma Pi, the National Forestry Honor Society; Gamma Sigma Delta, the Honor Society of Agriculture; and the Microbeam Analysis Society, which focused on the quantitative analysis of small volumes of matter down to the atomic level. Oren was honored with the Outstanding Academic Achievement Award from Iowa State University.

Those interested in making a charitable contribution to a Glenn Oren Scholarship can do so by contacting Brian Tingleff. Gifts of PTO, cash, credit card or personal check can be accepted.

Dr. Oren’s survivors include his wife, Shelley Oren, an adjunct faculty member at Mercy College and his three children, Natasha, Joshua, and Jacob.


Campus News & Updates

In Memory — Katherine Lippitt-Seibert, EdD

August 21, 1948 – June 6, 2013

Born in Duluth, Minnesota, Katherine was a life-long nursing professional who earned her diploma from Rapid City Regional Hospital School of Nursing in 1980. She received both her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1982 and Master in Education in 1984 from South Dakota State University and her Doctor of Education in 2012 from The College of Saint Mary, Omaha, Nebraska. In South Dakota, Dr. Seibert was Director of the satellite Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) program for Dakota Wesleyan University and developed the ASN program at the Oglala Lakota College on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. In California she worked as a house supervisor for a large hospital and as a visiting nurse, as well as maintaining a private psychotherapy practice. Later, she became unit manager for the 50-bed medical-surgical division of a major California HMO, and seeking a career change, subsequently accepted the position of regional vice-president and clinical director for a national hospice company, where she practiced for nine years. After relocating with her husband to Iowa, Katherine’s passion for teaching found fulfillment here at Mercy College. She leaves an extraordinary legacy of innovations and accomplishments. Even as she struggled with her disease, Katherine participated in groundbreaking investigative programs, researched treatments with her physicians, and advised many of her own graduate nurses, who cared for her with the humanity and compassion she had taught them. She was a warrior, and a teacher to the end. Katherine is survived by her husband Glen, son Louis, daughter Leslie and grandson Augustus. 8

VitalSigns Winter 2014

Those interested in making a charitable contribution to a Katherine Lippitt-Seibert Scholarship can do so by contacting Brian Tingleff. Gifts of PTO, cash, credit card or personal check can be accepted.

Campus News & Updates

New College Board Members Three new community members joined the Board of Directors of Mercy College of Health Sciences effective with the September 9, 2013 meeting. Each will serve a three-year term. Dr. Stephen R. Eckstat, retired Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Clinics - Des Moines (co-founded in 1983), and former Vice President of Primary Care Division, Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines. Dr. Eckstat is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from the College of Osteopathic Medicine & Surgery (now Des Moines University). Dr. Eckstat served as Assistant Professor of Clinical Medicine and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at Des Moines University. He co-founded several mission-focused organizations including MIDAC Free Clinic and Evelyn Davis Health Center. Dr. Eckstat is currently President of B’nai B’rith of Des Moines. Thomas A. Reitinger, Consultant, and former Chief Executive Officer, Mercy Medical Center Des Moines. Mr. Reitinger is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and a Master of Health Administration degree from Washington University School of Medicine. Mr. Reitinger led the formation of Mercy College of Health Sciences in 1995. Mr. Reitinger established an endowed scholarship for the benefit of Mercy College students. He has served on a variety of healthcare and community boards including the Iowa Hospital Association, Wisconsin Hospital Association Board, United Way, Greater Des Moines Committee Board, and the Y.M.C.A. Mary Cacciatore Sheldahl, former Owner-Partner of Iowa Dental Supply Company. Ms. Sheldahl graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Iowa and a Master of Science in Business Administration from Drake University. She is a current board member on the Hoyt Sherman Place Foundation, West Des Moines Historical Society, and St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church serving in a Treasurer position. For several years she has served on the Mercy College General Scholarship Committee as well as the Mission and Community Committee of the College Board as a community representative. Upon the death of her parents, Ms. Sheldahl established the Carl and Mary Cacciatore Endowment Scholarship in honor of her parents. Leading the Mercy College Board of Directors for the 2013-14 academic year as Board Chair is Diana Deibler, President Deibler & Company; Willard L. Boyd III, JD, Board Vice Chair, Attorney-at-Law Nyemaster, Goode, West, Hansell & O’Brien, P.C.; Merle T. Pederson, JD, Board Treasurer, Vice President & Counsel – Government Relations Principal Financial Group; Diane L. Huber, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, NEA-BC, Board Secretary, Professor in the College of Nursing at The University of Iowa; Barbara Q. Decker, JD, President Mercy College of Health Sciences, ex officio; and Robyn H. Wilkinson, Senior Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer Mercy Medical Center — Des Moines, ex officio.


Campus News & Updates

Nationally Recognized EMS Instructor Selected to Lead Brazil’s Inaugural Advanced Medical Life Support Program Course Lee Richardson (pictured in center of photo above), Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Associate Instructor and Clinical/Field Coordinator, was selected by the National Association of EMT’s to teach the inaugural Advanced Medical Life Support (AMLS) Program in Sao Paulo, Brazil in August 2013.

common medical crises in patients, offering a “think outside the box” methodology. It is for all levels of practitioners with a strong commitment to patient care, including emergency medical technicians, paramedics, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse anesthetists and physicians.

Richardson is currently the AMLS Region 4 Coordinator for the National Association. In that role, he oversees the quality of AMLS courses and sites for 10 states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Texas and Washington. He was personally a member of the first AMLS course taught in the United States in 1997, and has remained actively involved in the program for the last 16 years as an instructor, course coordinator, affiliate faculty and, his current role, as a regional leader.

In addition to his professional expertise in AMLS, Richardson is one of about 40 people in the United States authorized to teach Counter Narcotics and Terrorism Operational Medical Support, which is part of the national Tactical Medic Program run through the U.S. Park Police.

The course was taught at the University of São Paulo, School of Medicine and was the second time Richardson has taught AMLS internationally; the first was in Quebec, Canada. Richardson led the team traveling to Brazil that included two emergency medical doctors from Florida. Together they taught both the initial provider class in the country and helped to select participants for the first Instructor Course, leading to future courses taught by local Brazilian EMS personnel.

At the Fall 2012 Iowa Emergency Medical Services Association (IEMSA) Conference, Richardson received the 2012 Fulltime EMS Instructor of the Year award, while his co-worker, Michael Kaduce was the recipient of the Part-time EMS Instructor of the Year. The Mercy College EMS Program continues to exceed both the state (68%) and national (74%) on first-time passage rates on the certification examinations for students in its core paramedic program; its current rate is 88% in 2012. The program is nationally accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions and the Iowa Bureau of EMS.

According to the National Association of EMTs, the AMLS course is the first EMS education program that fully addresses how to best assess and manage the most 10

VitalSigns Winter 2014

At the annual Employee Christmas Luncheon, the College honored the service of two long-time faculty members who announced their retirement plans in fall 2013. Dr. Michael Allsopp and Dr. JoAnn Humphreys, DN ’68, were honored with framed pictures for the College in honor of their service.

Campus News & Updates

Allsopp and Humphreys Retire in Fall 2013

Top: Rose Marie Allsopp, Dr. Jeannine Matz, Dr. Michael Allsopp, President Barbara Decker, Dr. JoAnn Humphreys, Michael Humphreys and Dr. Shirley Beaver gather for a group photography at the Christmas Luncheon on December 16, 2013. Lower Left: Dr. Allsopp and his wife Rosie enjoy lunch with co-workers on his last day! Lower Right: Mike and Dr. Humphreys enjoy great conversation during the luncheon.

Dr. Allsopp joined the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) faculty in August 2003, after a distinguished higher education career across the country. Dr. Jeannine Matz, Dean of the School of LAS, estimated that Dr. Allsopp had taught as many as 3,000 students in his bioethics and/or critical thinking classes over 10 years. He plans to retire along with his wife to Canada, to be closer to children and grandchildren. When students were invited to comment on Dr. Allsopp’s retirement, Felisha Montero-Watson wrote, “It was an extreme pleasure to make your acquaintance! I want to thank you for all of your encouragement, and to let you know that you helped me recognize my own potential. I have set my sights higher than when I initially began classes at MCHS, and intend to sit for graduate exams this summer; I will never forget you bringing me that guide to graduate schools. Thank you for everything! Best wishes to you in your retirement.”

Dr. JoAnn Humphreys, Program Chair for the School of Nursing, also finalized her retirement plans this fall, after moving to PRN status this summer. Dr. Humphreys joined the nursing faculty in August 1987 and moved into her present role nearly five years ago. Dr. Humphreys was honored by the Mercy College Alumni Association with the Catherine McAuley Award for Nursing Excellence in June 2004. When informed of Dr. Humphrey’s retirement, registered nurse Anita Leveke, commented, “My memories of Dr. JoAnn Humphries date back to the mid 1980’s when I was new to Mercy ER and she was a “seasoned” ER nurse. Jo Ann was always so calm and never rattled, even when all heck had broken loose in the ER (as it often does). I remember thinking at that time, I hope I can be that calm, seasoned, ER nurse someday. By far one of the most professional nurses I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. Working with Jo Ann always made me want to be a better nurse. I was hoping I would have the pleasure of having you as a professor, but alas, I waited too long to pursue my BSN. Best of wishes to you as you retire.”


Campus News & Updates

College Hosts Mission Accreditors from Sisters of Mercy Mercy College of Health Sciences hosted a site visit by representatives of the Conference for Mercy Higher Education (CMHE) in September 2013 to evaluate whether the institution was living up to the values (charisms) of the Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM) and the College’s Roman Catholic higher education mission. The visit included representatives from CMHE educational institutions and the executive director of the conference. Mercy College was granted associate member status in May 2012, due to its sponsorship by Catholic Health Initiative (CHI). The College sought participation in the self-study and site visit when it became an associate member. The review process was piloted in 2012 and Mercy College excited to participate in the opportunity to gain valuable insights from the expertise of the Conference membership. Leading up to the visit, Mercy College developed a 27-page Mission Accountability Self-study document in response to five questions posed by CMHE. Self-study questions included: 1) What does Catholic and Mercy Mission mean for Mercy College of Health Science?; 2) How does the College apply its meaning of mission through programs, policies, & practices?; 3) What evidence is provided to judge the effectiveness of mission efforts?; 4) What might this evidence tell about mission integration effectiveness at the College?; and 5) What will be done with the information collected about effectiveness at the College? Visiting Des Moines as representatives of the Conference and peer review team members were Dr. Mary Fanning, RSM, faculty of University of Notre Dame, Maryland 12

Following their exit report to the College community, Dr. Moya Dittmeier, Dr. Mary Fanning, RSM, Dr. Helen Marie Burns, RSM, Professor Evelyn Quinn and President Decker gathered for a farewell picture.

and CMHE Board Member, who served as team chair; Dr. Helen Marie Burns, RSM, Vice President for Mission Integration, Mount Aloysius College, Pennsylvania; Chair of the Board, Mount Saint Agnes Theological Center for Women, MD; and past member of the Board, University of Detroit Mercy, Michigan; Professor Evelyn Quinn, Provost, Georgian Court University, New Jersey; and Dr. Moya Dittmeier, Executive Director, CMHE, Washington, DC. In issuing their final report, the review team retained the metaphor of the Mercy College Strategic Plan, which alluded to the flowering dogwood tree, when it titled the report “FROM SEED TO FLOWER TO SEED FOR FUTURE GROWTH.” In the report, the team highlighted a number of areas within the College where they noted a number of blossoms, both big and small, such as the emphasis with the Strategic Plan itself, the upcoming creation of a servant leadership course requirement as part of a core curricula, the recent immersion trips, and the ongoing Student Emergency Needs Fund, largely built with charitable support from College employees. The team report reviews initiatives discussed in the self-study and onsite while in Des Moines, which they considered seeds of growth and development, such as the lasting impact of the federal Pathways Grant, the development of processes to hire candidates for mission, the growing use of service learning in the curricula, and the concept of a Mercy College speakers program to institutionalize the values and legacy of the RSMs, even though their presence in Des Moines has diminished. The Board of Directors accepted the report from the Site Team at its meeting in November 2013 and forwarded it along to the National Leadership Team of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, who also approved of the document. A copy of the site report was also shared with Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines in November 2013. VitalSigns Winter 2014

Editor’s Note: This article was published in summer 2013 in the scholarly journal Nurse Educator following development by three members of the Mercy College Community: Assistant Professor of Nursing Dawn Bowker, RN, MAN, ARNP, WHNP-BC; Nursing Adjunct Faculty Brittany Weg, RN, ASN ’11 and BSN ’11; and Eileen Hansen, MLIS, AHIP, former Director of the Mercy College Library. This story is reprinted with permission of Nurse Educator.

Abstract: Nontraditional clinical sites provide a natural setting for Community Health Nursing students to apply population focused nursing, experience service learning, and demonstrate evidence based practice (EBP). Settings such as homeless camps, homeless youth centers, and programs for pregnant or single mothers who are at risk for homelessness enable nursing students to engage in health education, health promotion, disease prevention, and advocacy. Students learn to recognize and begin to address issues of health literacy, barriers to care, and social determinants of health.

Campus News & Updates

Nontraditional Clinical Sites: Working With Those Who Are Homeless

The article was published in the Nurse Educator: July/August 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 4 - p 139-140 doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e318296dc9f Departments: Community Health-Nontraditional Clinical Sites: Working With Those Who Are Homeless; Bowker, Dawn RN, MAN, ARNP, WHNP-BC; Weg, Brittany BSN, RN; Hansen, Eileen MLIS, AHIP

To establish these new sites, faculty contacted agencies that provided services to underserved populations in our community such as free clinics, faith-based organizations, human service agencies, afterschool programs, and homeless advocacy groups. We asked about their interest in having our RN-BSN students spend 15 weeks (54 hours) with their organization for their clinical experience. The strength in our request was that the students were licensed RNs or eligible to sit for the NCLEX board examination; they would be a constant in the organization and would complete a mutually agreed-upon project (with a teaching/learning component) for the particular population served. A challenged faced was the lack of the required BSN preceptor; faculty served in the role until a recent BSN graduate who also happened to volunteer with one of the community partners was hired.

Experiences in a Homeless Camp When told their clinical experience would be in homeless camps, located in the woods or along a riverbank, the RN-BSN students were faced with the reality of carrying only a black bag of nursing supplies and equipment through snow, rain, and sleet to visit individuals who lived life in the elements. Reactions varied, from being receptive to the idea of learning more about a vulnerable people in the homeless camp to negative, with fear of

loss of control over the environment and the potential for unsafe situations. Initially, some students admitted they were not particularly excited about an entire clinical experience working with homeless people. However, as the semester progressed and relationships with clients developed, students openly talked about their changing worldview. Talking about their clinical assignment, students started looking forward to seeing their clients’ progress each week, quickly starting to appreciate the many problems faced by people who are homeless. As a student said, “Not only are we helping vulnerable populations in the community, but these people could be our patients in the traditional setting of a hospital.” Many of the outreach initiatives started by students continue, for example, the annual interdisciplinary flu shot clinic for uninsured/underinsured individuals. Nearly 200 immunizations have been given since this project began. A “Healthy Me” club for an inner-city after-school program has also been maintained. Among their many activities, students have led school and parent requested meetings on health issues, back-to-school fairs in poor, ethnic minority neighborhoods. Free backpacks, school supplies, haircuts, dental examinations, physical examinations, and vision checks continue to be offered. One student outreach program initiated a dental program


Campus News & Updates

that has offered 3 sets of dentures and partnered with a local dental hygiene program to provide 50 free dental examinations to homeless individuals. The nursing students have established educational programs for homeless youth, pregnant teens, and an inner-city young women’s organization. Visits to the homeless or recently housed individuals continue to occur 3 days per week, with nursing assessments, care, and advocacy. Students have also met with city officials and elected state political leaders to discuss health disparities and barriers to healthcare access and to share experiences providing population-based nursing care to underserved individuals. Many students continue to volunteer their services after their school requirements were fulfilled. Students have presented at local, state, and regional meetings, not merely describing the project but advocating for the population they served. As a student stated, “I have learned firsthand of the health disparities right here in our own community and see a need for the community to do better in providing social justice to those who are less fortunate.” The impact of student efforts extends beyond the original agencies and clients. As word of the ongoing CHN project spread, other agencies began to refer patients. The chief executive officer of a homeless outreach agency stated, “[Our agency] regularly makes referrals to the Mercy Community Health Program and its nursing students for medical issues.” Local medical centers also became aware of the student outreach efforts and began referring patients in need. One request, to follow up on a homeless client, was compelling, “You can see how much help he needs and how he could slip through the cracks… could your students help?”

Client outcomes have been measurable on both individual and aggregate levels. Community agencies are also positive in their evaluation of the impact of the projects, “Mercy students and faculty have provided a valuable and much needed service to unsheltered people in our local homeless community. The work that Mercy College of Health Sciences students have done and continue to do for the homeless in Des Moines has made a significant difference in the hearts, lives, and health of many human beings that, for a variety of reasons, are struggling to simply survive.”

Summary Working with varied community populations in need of healthcare over a period of 4 months transformed student fears into action. These unique learning environments provided a foundation for engaged student learning and mutual benefit to students and the community. Noted themes in the students’ reflective journals indicated an increased awareness of healthcare disparities, altered perception of the client group, gratitude, and mutual teaching and learning. Most students described how their preconceived or judgmental attitudes toward a population in need changed to one of empathy and respect. Students expressed satisfaction with the impact of their teaching role while commenting on how much they learned from client interactions. One student summed up the unique, eye-opening learning experience when she said, “This journey was not what I had signed up for in the beginning of the class, but it ended up being something I will never forget and an opportunity of a lifetime.” We hope that our nursing school’s journey in providing sustained population-focused clinical experiences can serve as inspiration to others!

Congressman Latham visited with nursing students on Campus The Mercy College Association of Nursing Students (MCANS) hosted a discussion with US Congressman Tom Latham - Iowa. Congressman Latham was on campus on Thursday November 7, 2013 to field questions from nursing students. 14

VitalSigns Winter 2014

Mercy College recently received a College Success grant, Steps to Success, in the amount of $177,996 from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation. This grant will help 80 Mercy students achieve success in college by helping them develop campus connections and increase their odds of completing their programs of study. Mercy College was one of 28 organizations across Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin to receive a portion of the $4.5 million in College Success grant funds awarded by Great Lakes. These programs will serve more than 4,000 undergraduate students at two-year, four-year, and technical colleges during the 2013-2014 academic year, and will focus on those students with the most to gain. Mercy College’s Steps to Success program was funded based on the support services it provides to help students overcome obstacles that prevent them from staying in and completing college. In the 2013-2014 academic year, with the assistance of learning coaches, eligible Mercy students will develop a personal education plan that will help them persist in their health science education. In addition, to help alleviate the financial need of the students and to improve their likelihood of graduating; Steps to Success will offer its students incentives of up to $400 toward book vouchers. “With the College Success grant, Mercy College can execute a comprehensive program aimed at increasing the retention and persistence rates of first generation and low-income students. The program consists of three main components; learning coaches; student success seminars; and tutoring. All services are designed to connect students of similar backgrounds, and to address barriers to retention that our students encounter,” said Dr. Karen Anderson, Mercy College Vice President, Enrollment and Student Affairs.

Campus News & Updates

Mercy College Receives $177,996 Grant from Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation

Mercy College of Health Sciences is seeking comments from the public about the College in preparation for its periodic evaluation by its regional accrediting agency. The College will host a visit March 3-5, 2014, with a team representing the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Mercy College of Health Sciences has been accredited by the Commission since 1999. The team will review the institution’s ongoing ability to meet the Commission’s Criteria for Accreditation.

The public is invited to submit comments regarding the College: Third-Party Comment on Mercy College of Health Sciences The Higher Learning Commission 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500 Chicago, IL 60604-1411 The public may also submit comments on the Commission’s website at Comments must address substantive matters related to the quality of the institution or its academic programs. Comments must be in writing. All comments must be received by January 31, 2014


Spreading Their


After 110 years in health science education, Mercy College is preparing students for medical school and graduate school. The key? A four-year degree in health sciences.


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Staff Sergeant Nathaniel Nielsen, ASEMS ’09 & BSHS ‘11 had just returned to the U.S. from a rigorous two-year deployment in Iraq, where he served as a combat medic in an air-assault infantry battalion. It was during this time that he discovered a deep love for health care. Nielsen completed Mercy College’s paramedic program, but then found himself at a crossroads. “I knew I wanted to pursue an advanced degree in medicine,” he says. “I wasn’t sure if it would be medical school or physician-assistant school. So I decided to segue to that ultimate choice by completing the new Bachelor of Science in Health Science (BSHS) program at Mercy College.” As it turned out, the timing was perfect for Nielsen—since the program had just come into existence. “We have always educated students who wanted to go to medical school, but we didn’t have a four-year degree program for them until fall 2009,” says Dr. Jeannine Matz, Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences and chair of the BSHS program. “Previously, Mercy students who had aspirations to sit for the MCAT or GRE exams had to transfer elsewhere. So we began to offer more science classes and electives. Then we identified valuable job-shadowing experiences with physicians and physician assistants at Mercy Medical Center (MMC) and Des Moines University (DMU). A lot of the pieces fell into place.” With Matz at the helm, the BSHS program finally opened its doors to students—many of whom had been eagerly awaiting the opportunity. “It was exciting to be part of something that was growing as I grew and gained knowledge,” says Nicole Rayman, BSHS “11, the first student to graduate from the program. “And because the program was so new, the faculty and staff really listened to students’ suggestions for making it better the following semester.”

If your thinking about a school for health science, Mercy is the one. You can feed off the knowledge of the professors because you have such close relationships with them.” — Nicole Rayman, BSHS ‘11

Rayman had come to Mercy for polysomnography, then switched over to health sciences as she realized her aptitude for graduate school. Today she’s attending Des Moines University in the Public Health program. She started the program in fall of 2012 and anticipates


graduation in summer of 2014. She currently works as a Research Associate at DuPont Pioneer in Regulatory Science, Molecular Characterization. Upon completion of my MPH, she would like to apply her education and focus on food safety and regulation with Pioneer. She credits that decision to the statistics class she took from Professor Glenn Oren, who helped Rayman figure out that epidemiology would let her combine microbiology and statistics into a single health related career. With the BSHS program, professors such as Oren taught classes that are challenging, but small, Matz says. “Advanced Anatomy has eight students. Organic chemistry has 16. These are such hard classes that it’s really important to give that one-on-one lab experience not always possible in a bigger school,” she says. “Our students get to know the faculty and feel very connected to the college.”

My advice for people thinking about getting a health science degree from Mercy College is to never stop pushing yourself and never lose the thirst for knowledge. When times get hard, push back harder.” — SSG Nathaniel Nielsen, NREMT-PS, ASEMS ’09, BSHS ‘11


Nielsen echoes the sentiment, recalling that that Professor Truc Nguyen’s “rigorous demand for perfection in his courses” helped motivate the staff sergeant to succeed. And Nielsen also thrived on the required 40-hour practicums, shadowing emergency room physicians at Mercy Medical Center: Dustin Derflinger DO and Colonel Lenard M. Kerr, DO, State Surgeon, Iowa Army National Guard. Mercy’s BSHS program helped Nielsen enhance his critical thinking ability and perfect his studying skills, he says; and the hard science courses did a good job of preparing him to take the MCAT. Today Nielsen is currently in the Doctor of Osteopathy program at Des Moines University. He remains an active paramedic and, has also accepted a commission to Second Lieutenant with the Army. He anticipates graduation from DMU in 2017. J. D. (John) Cambron, R.N., ASN ’09, BSHS’12, is enrolled in graduate school at the Kansas University Medical School. He loved working as a nurse in the Neuro/Trauma Medical ICU at MMC. “I knew exactly where I wanted to be all through nursing school,” he says. “But in the back of my mind, I also knew I wanted to go to med school. After working in the ICU I felt I saw the goods and bads of being a physician there, and still loved it. I know my nursing skills will take me to another level as a physician.”

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Cambron, who graduated in 2012, confesses that tough classes such as advanced anatomy and genetics really “worked him over.” However, he remains impressed by the camaraderie of students in the BSHS program, he says. “Study groups for the upper-level science courses kept you motivated and made it easier to study,” he says. “And professors can seem intimidating, but they give you all the tools you need to do well in their courses.” Note: Nielsen was a Track 2 student in the health science program—which is designed for individuals who already hold an associate of science degree in health science. Track 1 is for first-time college students—like Nicole Rayman—who want to obtain a bachelor’s degree in health sciences. Track 3 is for students who wish to earn both the bachelor’s degree and certification in clinical laboratory sciences. And Track 4 is for students who want both a bachelor’s degree and certification in nuclear medicine technology.

I was comfortable choosing Mercy for a bachelor’s degree because I had taken about half of the science classes already [for nursing] and enjoyed the atmosphere.” — J.D. Cambron, RN, ASN ’09, BSHS ‘12

We have four years to groom students to where they want to be. Good grades and MCAT scores are not enough So we offer service learning opportunities, such as global health, to set students apart from the 8,000 other people applying to medical school.” — Jeannine Matz, Ph.D.


Three Catholic Institutions Partner to Help Cultivate the Next Generation of Health Care Workers

funded by a grant from

Imagine 1,300 Dowling Catholic High School students dressed in maroon, black, white, gray, and khaki. Now narrow that variegated group down to 52 ambitious teen-agers intrigued by the possibility of a healthcare career. What you’re visualizing is this year’s Maroons in Health Sciences Program, made possible by a three-year grant from Catholic Health Initiatives and a three-way partnership among Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines (aka the Maroons), Mercy College (Iowa’s only Catholic health science college), and Mercy Medical Center — Des Moines (Iowa’s largest Catholic hospital).

What these Catholic institutions are doing is cultivating the next generation of mission-driven healthcare workers, according to Heidi Pierson, coordinator of the Maroons in Health Sciences program. How does it work? By giving students unique opportunities to interact with leading healthcare experts and educators in our community, she says; a process that may ultimately help stem the growing shortage of healthcare workers. With such a high-priority goal, students who apply for the program need to exhibit a combination of curiosity and commitment, Pierson noted. “Dowling students are very motivated and very college-driven,” she says. “But in terms of this program, we’re looking for students who are interested in exploring a broad range of careers rather than one specific job. And we want students who agree to attend every session; that’s how they get the full benefit.” Such a commitment means clocking 21 contact hours via sessions held in August, September, October, January, February and April—on days that students are not in school. Sessions take place from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in a variety of locations: Mercy College; Mercy Medical Center; Mercy West Lakes, West Des Moines; YMCA Healthy Living Center (and Mercy Medical Center’s Sleep Center), Clive; and Bishop Drumm Care Center, Johnston, a long-term care facility that is a subsidiary of Mercy Medical Center.


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During November, December, and March program participants stay on the Dowling Catholic campus to listen to presentations and panel discussions during their seminar period (homeroom). Pierson also coordinates job-shadowing opportunities for the seniors, which may add another four contact hours to the total. “We want students to consider medical professions they may already be familiar with – like family practice physician or registered nurse – as well as covers less familiar—such as polysomnographic technologist or child-life specialist,” she added. “We want them to understand how vast the world of healthcare really is.”

Each grade level focuses on different aspects of Catholic healthcare. Now in its second year of the grant, the Maroons in Health Sciences program has expanded to include sophomores as well as juniors and seniors. Each grade level operates on its own curricula, which means students can participate all three years of high school and study different aspects of healthcare each session. Every school year the program kicks off in August with a cardio-risk assessment before moving the students into experiences grouped under separate themes.

• Sophomores get a broad overview of health care careers, along with an exploration of diversity, teamwork, and critical thinking. • Juniors explore areas such as pediatric health care, long-term care of adult patients, and community health—as well as what it means to be a Catholic healthcare worker. • Seniors focus on career preparation: investigating graduate school programs in medicine and the health sciences at Des Moines University; exploring careers through job shadowing; and building job skills through presentations from Mercy Medical Center’s human resources department and Mercy College professors. Seniors also benefit from interactive experiences with Mercy Medical Center physicians. During the 2012-13 school year a panel discussion with Dr. David Laughrun, Cardiology, Dr. JoEllen Heims, Family Practice, and Dr. Richard Deming, Oncology, led to each physician transitioning with the students into hands-on experiences, namely, Dr. Laughrun showing students back in his office how to give a patient an EKG; Dr. Heims arranging for students to conduct a pre-screening interview with actors simulating patient with symptoms; and Dr. Deming, showing students his work routine back in his oncology clinic. Pierson also arranges for speakers to address the reasons for choosing to work in Catholic healthcare. “Religion is a key part of the exploration,” Pierson says, “because we want these students to follow in the footsteps of the Sisters of Mercy who founded Mercy College.” This fall, the students learned about The Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Healthcare Services (known as the ERDs) from Fr. Dan Nolan, director of Campus Ministry for Mercy College, and Fr. Anthony Adibe, chaplain at Mercy Medical Center.

Students benefit in multiple ways. Dowling Catholic students benefit from this program in multiple ways according to Pierson, beginning with their expanded knowledge of healthcare opportunities. Their grant-funded cardio-risk assessments lead to a discussion of healthy lifestyle habits with a healthcare professional. Students meet Mercy College students, Des Moines University graduate students, and Mercy physicians who visit Dowling Catholic, and answer pertinent questions. They also become eligible to enroll in Mercy College’s Nursing Assistant and/or Emergency Medical Technician short-term certificate programs during summer sessions at discounted tuition rates. “We open students’ eyes to opportunities they didn’t know about before—which may turn out to be great fits for their skills and abilities,” Pierson added, noting that pre- and post-program surveys show a 70 percent increase in interest in healthcare careers among participants. “But we also want them to understand that all these career fields, from physician to food-service worker—work to ensure the best outcomes possible for patients. And whether they decide to go into healthcare or not, it’s an important benefit to help students see the possibilities before they enroll in a college.”

“I learned that the field of medicine is also a ministry of healing. It is about interacting at a mind, body, and spirit level.”



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“Cultural immersion makes students more sensitive to patients’ needs. People who have different cultural beliefs from our own heal better if their own understanding of healing is implemented.” -- Dawn Bowker




IMMERSION By immersing themselves in a Mexican community, Mercy College students learn how to be better prepared, more compassionate healthcare professionals. Visiting ancient Mayan ruins. Working with indigenous healers. Learning from professors at Universidad Marista. These and other experiences transfixed and transformed six Mercy College students as they immersed themselves in the cultural fabric of the Mayans in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico in August 2013. The international trip capped off the newly developed Cultural Perspectives on Global Health humanities course in the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS). “Mercy College has an obligation to educate students nationally and internationally,” says Dr. Jeannine Matz, Dean of LAS, who will take part in the second Yucatan trip in August 2014. “In order for students to become the best healthcare providers possible, they must understand different religions, cultures and lifestyles. And they need to understand how to be servant leaders and give back to their communities. Immersing themselves in a unfamilar culture is just one way we can help accomplish that goal.”


“The cenotes were amazing. To see the natural process of the earth’s water system in this region in person is something that words, pictures or even videos cannot explain! The personal and life lessons I learned during this experience are something that cannot be matched in a classroom setting.” -- Nathan Cromer, RN, ASN ’09, RN-BSN student

Eight Diverse Days in the Yucatan How did Mayan culture find its way into the Mercy College curriculum? It started when Dawn Bowker, RN, MAN, ARNP, WHNP-BC, assistant professor of nursing, visited the Yucatan for a meeting organized by the Heartland Global Health Consortium in her role as one of the College’s representatives. Participants talked about cultural diversity and visited sites associated with Mayan culture—which prompted Bowker to bring ideas about studying abroad back to the College.

“Consortium members pool their resources and knowledge base to make research and service opportunities possible that would not otherwise exist,” says Bowker, who is the organization’s president in 2013. Janet Roberts-Andersen, EdD, MT(ASCP), Medical Assisting Program Chair, is also a representative on the Consortium for the College. “Those key contacts and the information and protocols they shared made it possible for us to set up the Yucatan immersion trip,” Bowker says. Because of Central College’s help in providing guest housing, a professional on-site program director and transportation, Mercy College faculty could concentrate on developing learning objectives. Bowker and Roberts-Andersen

worked on the proposal, developed the forms, set up information sessions, and promoted the course to faculty, staff, and students. Once enrolled in the course, students had weeks of online coursework, in which Professor Bowker and Roberts-Andersen presented material via lectures, journal articles, web sites, and even YouTube videos. Students delved into such topics as agriculture and food security; social health determinants; education and healthcare systems; diabetes (a chronic health problem in Mexico); and the colonialization of the Yucatan itself. The trip took place the following week, during summer break. On one level, students were building a foundation of knowledge to help them acquire more out of the experiences

Merida, Yucatan Itinerary Day 1 Arrive Merida

Day 2

Day 3

M1 Historical and Archeological Maya

M2 Education Systems Private vs Public Introduction to Chronic Disease Diabetes

M Module


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Day 4 M3 Health Systems Private vs Public

Day 5 M4 Family Structures and Epigenetics M5 Nutrition, Agriculture and Food Security

Day 6

Day 7

M6 Climate change and Environmental Influence on Community

M8 Water Systems and Sanitation

Day 8 Return to Des Moines

M7 Colonialization of the Yucatan


Participants: Yucatan Immersion Experience Stopping long enough for a photo on ancient steps are trip participants (left to right): Heather Reineke, ASN student; Nathan Cromer, ASN ’09 and BSN student; Jennifer Kirstein, ASN’12 and BSN student; Dr. Roberts Andersen; guest of Nathan Cromer; Trinh Tran, MA student; Renee Durbala, ASN student; and Professor Bowker.

ahead, according to Dr. Roberts-Andersen. “But on a deeper level, students were building their professional resources,” she says. “They learned research skills and the availability of resources they can plug into to provide healthcare to patients from different cultures,” she says. The two instructors organized a schedule of activities that addressed cultural, historical, environmental, healthcare-related, and global concerns in the Yucatan. Each day began with breakfast at the guest house in Merida. Students then traveled by bus to sites that coordinated with content studied in Des Moines. A day trip to see intricately decorated Mayan ruins in Uxmal coordinated with an earlier module on historical and archeological aspects of the Mayan Empire. A tour of Cuzama and its cenotes (world-famous underwater sinkholes) linked back to a module about water systems and sanitation. Students also spent time with Mayan host families, communicating the best they could without translators. “Students learned to deal with being taken out of their comfort zone, and use all their communication skills—including gestures and facial expressions,” Dr. Roberts-Andersen says. “These are the types of skills they’re going to need in a healthcare career where they engage with people different from themselves.” Evenings were spent at the house learning survival Spanish, and participating in student-led presentations, and class discussions. As with many Mercy College learning experiences, the Mexico trip also included self-reflections. “We shared perceptions on what we thought we were going to experience compared to what we actually saw and heard,” says Jennifer Kirstein, RN, ASN ’12, who also received her BSN in December 2013. “Previous to this experience, I pictured Mexico as one big wonderful beach with beautiful sunsets. The city of Merida is gorgeous and picturesque, but when we ventured into impoverished areas, we saw garbage everywhere because of the limited sanitation system. We gained a new perspective about their living conditions.”

“Students may not be aware they have biases. They might think the whole world has the same ideas about hygiene they do, for example,” says Dr. Roberts-Andersen. 26

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The Heartland Global Health Consortium Connection Mercy College of Health Sciences is a member of the Heartland Global Health Consortium, collaborating with nine other Iowa schools to expand educational, research, and service opportunities for students and faculty. Member Institutions include Central College, Des Moines University, Drake University, Grinnell College, Iowa State University, Mercy College of Health Sciences, Simpson College, University of Iowa, University of Northern Iowa, and William Penn University. Dawn Bowker, RN, MAN, ARNP, WHNP-BC, Assistant Professor of Nursing, was the 2013 Chair of the Consortium.

“As a result of the trip, their point-of-view changes from ‘They’re wrong, I’m right’ to ‘That’s fine if that’s how they want to do it. Let’s see if we can work with mutual goals to improve their quality of life as well as their health.’” Mercy College is now providing cultural immersion experiences precisely because they tie into the school’s strategic plan of helping students become the best healthcare providers they can be. “Being able to pass the skills tests is not the whole picture,” Dr. Roberts-Andersen says. “Students need depth. Plus, potential students are looking for [immersion] experiences like these; they select colleges where their options are much greater.” Currently Mercy College students can choose cultural immersion experiences in the Yucatan (open to all students in August 2014) or the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (offered to Nursing/Community Health students in April and November each year). Other immersion experiences are also being explored for inclusion in the future. The Yucatan experience employs a faculty mentor/mentee model that is designed to transfer key relationships at the immersion location from faculty leader to faculty leader. Participation rotates among the College’s three schools: Nursing, Allied Health, and LAS. Bowker (Nursing) was the mentor and Dr. Roberts-Andersen (Allied Health) was the mentee for the 2013 trip. Roberts-Andersen will be the mentor and Dr. Matz (LAS) will be the mentee for the 2014 trip.

BE LOGO SPECS “I’m opening my heart and mind to the experience,” Dr. Matz says. “I’ll be learning


with the students and engaging with them. It will make me a better leader for having participated.” on light backgrounds on dark backgrounds standard

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Please take time to view the video reflections from students who participated in the 2013 Yucatan Immersion Experience, visit the Mercy College YouTube Channel (

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Preparing for a three-day site visit (March 3-5, 2014) from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, has already included almost three years of intensive work by stakeholders. Why? Because Mercy College is seeking reaffirmation of accreditation, which requires a comprehensive self-study to show the institution is preparing graduates for their respective professions. See what the HLC Steering Committee co-chairs — Faculty member Dr. Martha Doyle and Dr. Joan McCleish, Dean of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Grants—have to say about the self-study, the potential outcomes, and the challenges and rewards of this level of self-examination.

Briefly, what does the self-study involve?

Dr. Martha Doyle (MD) Associate Professor, Social Sciences

JM: We started preparing for the self-study in fall 2010, set up the HLC Steering Committee in spring 2011, and have been meeting regularly ever since. We developed teams to look at each of the five Criterion (see sidebar). The teams span College-wide participation, including representation from academics and administrative departments. We anticipate the self-study will provide evidence to our HLC peer reviewers that we have met the level of quality in the higher education community. The process is all about providing evidence to show that we are consistently improving ourselves to help students be successful and helping ourselves, as a College, be more successful at educating. That’s why we chose the theme Reaffirming Our Students’ Success


for the process.

March 3-5, 2014 HLC site visit

Where are you at in the process?

Dr. Joan McCleish (JM) Dean of Institutional Research, Assessment, and Grants


MD: We’re switching gears a bit. Now that we are finishing up the self-study portion of the process, we need to share the study with the entire College community. It is important that everyone—including the board, faculty, staff, administration, students, and alumni—be knowledgeable about the findings of the self-study. The reviewers will want to triangulate data, which means finding out if everybody has a clear understanding of how the College works and how we fulfill our mission. Let’s say they’re talking to Mercy College board VitalSigns Winter 2014

Late fall 2013 Complete self-study January 2014 Submit self-study to HLC

Final response from HLC expected by late summer.

members. The reviewers won’t just be asking about board issues; they may ask what those board members know about the admissions process or the mission of the College. JM: We need to celebrate our strengths and look at the challenges—and in some cases, find ways to change those challenges to opportunities. We continue to search for input and verification to support the self-study.

members, and the focus groups after the drafts were written. We also asked students for their feedback via focus groups. During the same time frame, the College experienced several large-scale changes, some related directly to the self-study and others parallel to the process. Everyone at the College has been involved with these efforts in addition to the self-study; the efforts blend together so you forget where the self-study begins and other endeavors continue.

Any achievements you’d In broad strokes, what like to share here? will the HLC visit be JM: Involving the whole College like? in the self-study was one of the HLC committee’s primary goals. We offered many opportunities for stakeholders to offer their insights, including a Kick-Off function for the Self-Study process, gatherings for Criterion committee

JM: It’s a peer-review process. That means people prepared in the review process in similar roles at other colleges and universities, such as faculty, Deans, or administrators will spend three days at

the College verifying that our self-study accurately describes what we said when comparing our mission and the HLC criteria. They’ll be looking for us to show we’re aspirational in our efforts, which means going beyond what they call “assumed practices.” The reviewers will provide feedback to us about whether or not we’ve met the criteria and share ways in which we can improve.

More specificall,what will the peer reviewers experience while they’re here? JM: During that time the reviewers will meet with different groups from campus such as faculty, students, staff, Board members and alumni. They may visit courses even sit in on classes, both on

Self-Study Criterions 1




Is Mercy College’s mission clear and articulated publicly? Or in other words: What is our mission; what do we do, and how do we represent ourselves? Co-chairs: Brian Tingleff and Dr. Joe Moravec.

Does Mercy College act with integrity? How do we do what we do in an ethical and responsible manner? Co-chairs: Jim Tagye and Jacqueline Easley-McGhee.




Teaching and learning/quality resources and support

Teaching and learning/ evaluation and improvement

Resources, planning and institutional effectiveness

The expectation is that Mercy College provides high-quality education wherever and however offerings are delivered. How do we provide the resources that support what we do? Co-chairs: Dr. Jeannine Matz and Roy Meador.

How do we evaluate and assess what we’re doing? How do we use those assessments to improve what we’re doing? Co-chairs: Sue Bravard and Dr. Suzanne Crandall.

Are Mercy College’s resources sufficient to fulfill our mission, respond to future challenges, and support our plans? How do we plan so we continue to have the infrastructure we need to do what we do now and in the future? Co-chairs: Dr. Shirley Beavers and Thomas Leahy.


“My goal since Day 1 has been to engage everybody, make it exciting for them, and to continue to give them opportunity to provide feedback.” -- Marti Doyle campus and at a distance. They’ll also look at evidence in our resource room to verify what we said in the self-study. MD: A lot of the documentation will be in electronic form; the reviewers will be able to click a document to open a set of data to support the narrative they’re reading.

What are the possible outcomes of this visit? JM: Mercy College received initial accreditation at the bachelor’s level in 1999 and continued accreditation in 2004, so the actual term for what we’re seeking is reaffirmation. There are three possible outcomes. The highest achievement would be full reaffirmation without actions. It’s also possible to receive reaffirmation with actions, which means the reviewers need additional information. Such a status may require a follow-up visit. The third outcome is when an institution does not meet one or more criterion and does not receive reaffirmation. Mercy College is seeking full reaffirmation.

Why is HLC accreditation so important? MD: Students have the most at stake, because accreditation allows them to receive financial aid. It also allows them to transfer credits to another school. Accreditation also speaks to Mercy College’s reputation, which affects our enrollment as well as our graduates’ future employment or entrance into graduate school. Of course, accreditation also affects faculty, staff, and administration. Anything that affects our students impacts us .If we don’t have students, we don’t have a college.

What is the biggest challenge of preparing for this visit? MD: For me, it’s the fact there are so many moving targets. The self-study has already resulted in changes. This is great, as this is the reason we are conducting the study in the first place. However, these changes triggered the need to update descriptions that were included in previous drafts of the self-study. It has been challenging to determine when to say, “Ok, this is where we are at this point in time.” JM: There are many areas you examine as you go through the self-study process. In addition to the successes you find, you also realize there’s always room for improvement.

What makes the process so rewarding? JM: It’s realizing how much we have evolved since we first received college accreditation—what we’ve done, how we’ve grown and continue to grow as a College.

HLC Steering Committee Co-chairs: Martha Doyle, MSW, PhD Associate Professor, Social Sciences Joan McCleish, RN, PhD Dean of Institutional Research, Assessment and Grants

Members: Karen Anderson, MBA, PhD Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Shirley Beaver, RN, PhD, NEA-BC Dean of the School of Nursing Jeffrey Bouzek, MBA Director of Information Technology Sue Bravard, PT, MS Assistant Professor and Program Chair of Physical Therapist Assistant Barbara Q. Decker, JD President Jacqueline Easley-McGhee Mercy College Board Member Thomas Iverson Senior Program Analyst Steven D. Langdon, ATC, EdD Vice President of Academic Affairs/ Provost

MD: Joan has been here since we first became a college. This is the first time I’ve really been part of the whole process. I agree; it’s nice to see the evidence that we’re doing a good job. And it’s helpful to see how everything is connected, how the process of budgeting comes back to what we do in the classroom, for example.

Thomas Leahy, JD Vice President of Business and Regulatory Affairs

Any last words?

Roy Meador, MA, MLS Director of Library and Media Services

MD: The self-study process is a time where we can recognize that everybody has a piece in what we do well: providing our students with an excellent learning environment. We need to take time to celebrate our successes.

Jeanne Pike Administrative Assistant and Recording Secretary

JM: Students’ success is what we’re all about here at Mercy College. 30


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Jeannine Matz, PhD Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Jeanette McGreevy, PhD Academic and Institutional Effectiveness Coordinator

Jim Tagye Marketing Coordinator Brian Tingleff Vice President of External Affairs

A New W rld of Possibilities “I always saw this project for me as a calling,” says Brenda Long, who as academic coordinator handled all of the day-to-day operations. “I have been able to walk into a long-term care facility and see four Pathways graduates as certified aides taking care of my own mother. To know I had a part in educating people who would directly give care on a daily basis to my own family member brings me full circle in that calling. I had no idea of how the program would affect me personally when we did those first interviews three years ago.”

hand, and then received both a diploma and a long-stemmed rose; its yellow color a symbol of joy, friendship, and the promise of a new beginning. “I can’t describe the amount of joy I saw in their faces, as well as the faces of their family members and friends,” recalls Kim Oswald, Ed.D, who managed the grant-funded project. Oswald is also an associate professor of nursing at Mercy College. “That joy reflected the realization they know their children may also attend college to achieve their dreams.”

After three years, the Pathways Program’s 180 graduates are enriching Iowa with their highly desirable skills as multi-cultural healthcare workers. One by one the last group of graduates from the Pathways to Health Care Careers - Iowa Project walked to the front of the room on July 16, 2013. Each person shook Mercy College of Health Sciences President Barbara Q. Decker’s

For many of the graduates, simply attending college at all had been a lifelong dream. Other graduates had excelled at professions in their native countries, but were not employable in the United States without further education and a better command of the English language. All 37 students who graduated last summer, and the 143 Pathways graduates who came before them, saw their dreams become reality because a $3.4 million grant from the US Department of Labor. Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) administered the grant, partnering with the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services and Mercy College to implement components related to education and future employment in the field of healthcare. “We did career education with a specific end result: employment,” says Brenda Long, Pathways’ academic coordinator. “But it wasn’t just about learning skills. It was also about

Pathways Team Members Kim Oswald, RN, MSN, Ed.D Program Manager Brenda Long Academic Coordinator Maggie Moore Admissions Counselor Amanda Taylor Admissions Counselor Stephanie Epstein, ESL Academic Counselor Carol Bousselot Secretary


helping students understand that as healthcare providers, they need to be sensitive to each patient as a holistic person—mind, body, and soul.”

screened for entry into the program. Of that group, 180 students have graduated from one of five academic or short-term certificate programs (see sidebar), and 131 graduates have earned certification in their chosen field (29 additional Medical Billing and Coding students were not expected to obtain certification within the grant period). “For us to witness the numbers that we did, in a 2½-year-long time frame, was a major success,” Oswald says. Developing academic processes to achieve the grant’s stated goals was another key part of the success story, Oswald says. That’s because the nature of a proof-of-concept grant is about creating and changing process as needed, she says, rather than implementing an established road map. “It was very much a moving target,” Oswald says. “If something didn’t work, we changed the process to make it work better. From a management standpoint, the team and I embraced that reality and worked diligently for students to have the best opportunity to be successful without compromising academic quality.”

Pathways’ key achievements 2010-2013 Statistics tell a big part of the Pathways success story, starting with the number of ESL students (English as a Second Language) served since the grant classes began in August 2010, Oswald says. (The grant was awarded in February 2010; it took another six months to put staff and other resources in place before the classes began.) More than 600 students were

And the third noteworthy success was an emotional one, Oswald says: the sense of accomplishment and overwhelming gratitude expressed by Pathways graduates. “Every graduation ceremony was the culmination of an intense amount of labor with a major sense of payoff,” says Long, who coordinated all the ceremonies. “In their home countries, the

“For me, success is working hard, enjoying and taking pride in your career and yourself, and continuing to strive for something better for yourself and your family.” — Puspa Adhikari, Paramedic Specialist Certificate graduate and Class Speaker (born in Bhutan)

Pathways Project at a Glance Funding: A $3.4 million grant from the US Department of Labor Program partners: Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services, and Mercy College of Health Sciences Rural partners: Mercy Medical Center, Sioux City; Tri-State Nursing, Sioux City; Buena Vista Regional Medical Center; Sunset Knoll Care and Rehab Center, Aurelia Employment partners: Mercy Health Network; Mercy Health


Network—Central Iowa; Dallas County Hospital; Bishop Drumm Retirement Center, Johnson Program goal: To recruit, screen, educate, and support Iowa’s legal refugees and immigrants with limited English proficiency (LEP) to prepare them to pursue high-demand healthcare careers with wrap-around resources to ensure academic success in the classroom and beyond the classroom. Applicants’ countries of origin: 47

Pathways graduates’ countries of origin: 34 Albania, Bhutan, Bosnia, Brazil, Burma, Burundi, Congo, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Honduras, Gambia, Guatemala, Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Laos, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Thailand, Togo, Vietnam, Ukraine, West Bengal Total number of graduates (Des Moines, Sioux City, Storm Lake): 180

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Graduates earning certification: 131 (plus 29 successful Medical Billing & Coding graduates who were not expected to sit for the exam during the grant period) Short-term Certificate options: Medical Billing and Coding; Nursing Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician Academic Certificate options: Medical Assisting, Paramedic

“One day my son came up to me and said that all his dreams of going to medical school and becoming a doctor were from watching me go to school.” — Dijana Ninkovic- Paramedic Specialist Certificate graduate (from Bosnia)

students’ lives were focused on survival. Now they’re in a safe place with opportunities to grow emotionally, spiritually, and academically. When they grasp they can have a career, not just a job, their self-esteem rises and they just blossom.”

Odd Fellows willingness to partner and lead by example is an important example of reaching out to the stranger in our midst, to assist in achieving the American Dream of a quality education and to make a difference in our community.”

“I think the program not only changed students’ lives, it changed the lives of all of us who worked on the grant, too,” Oswald adds. “That’s because we really witnessed the living out of our core values through this program.”

And finally, Mercy College is completing research to examine various aspects of the Pathways Program model. Results are expected by the end of the academic year. Among the explorations: 1. Pre- and post-education surveys are being done with Pathways graduates to determine their quality of life before and after college, and document whether or not they gained employment as a result. 2. Support services provided to Pathways students (e.g. tutoring, ESL classes, extended class time) are being evaluated to see which services were most helpful for students. 3. Mercy College’s level of cultural competence is expected to increase through involvement in the Pathways program, research is being conducted to determine how much impact the program is having on the culture within the institution to enhance sensitivity towards refugees and immigrants.

Next steps for Pathways graduates and Mercy College

4. Curriculum modifications for each program of study are being evaluated to determine the academic impact for students.

The grant-funded portion of the Pathways program has ended, but its graduates’ contributions to the State of Iowa have just begun, Oswald says. Many of them have already obtained jobs within the healthcare industry, bringing their multicultural skills to clinics and hospitals where such expertise is needed the most. The Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services will continue to work with graduates to find jobs in healthcare, she says.

“The lessons we learned through the grant and by working with ESL students will benefit faculty, instructors, staff, and all students in the future,” Oswald says. “Through the research efforts of faculty and staff, we anticipate the emerging key learnings will further support a quality educational experience for all students for years to come.”

In addition, the Pathways Program Alumni Scholarship (funded from the Mercy College General Scholarship Fund) will help Pathways graduates who want to continue their education in one of the College’s degree programs. Scholarships will be awarded to full- and part-time students who meet the entry GPA for the desired degree program and have provided a letter of recommendation. The College initially committed $15,000 to award four (4) Pathways graduates $3,500 scholarships to pursue additional coursework at Mercy College in the hopes that they will earn an associate or bachelor’s degree at Mercy College. This fall, the Odd Fellows of Iowa announced a $20,000 scholarship match for the 2014-15 academic year to assist in helping with the ongoing education of these Pathways alumni. President Barbara Decker in commenting on the Odd Fellows charitable commitment said, “The generosity of such a trust fraternal organization to assisting these hardworking alumni to achieve the next level of education is truly wonderful. The


A Board Member’s Philanthropy

Giving Compassion Today and Forever Mercy is strongly woven through the fabric of Mary Sheldahl’s life. She was born and cared for by Sister Mary Zita Brennen at Mercy. During her youth, she watched her mother, Mary Cacciatore, lead the Mercy Guild. And, during her parents’ final days, she said her goodbyes to them at Mercy. Mercy’s Compassion “Mercy showed me what compassion really is,” related Sheldahl. “When my mother was hospitalized with complications from diabetes, the nurses at Mercy were extraordinary. They celebrated my mother’s life with us in an unobtrusive, compassionate manner. They intuitively seemed to know what our family needed as we prepared to say goodbye to my mother. Their compassion and care were beyond words.” Mary’s family would once again experience Mercy’s compassion a mere seven-weeks later when Mary’s father, Carl Cacciatore, passed away from a heart attack. “Once again we were treated with extreme kindness. Sister Patricia Clare Sullivan, Mercy’s President, made sure we had a complete understanding of the medical procedures my dad needed,” Sheldahl shared.

Honoring Mary and Carl Cacciatore During Mary Cacciatore’s hospitalization, the family discussed with their father how to best honor her legacy. “We decided we wanted to do something for future nurses by establishing a scholarship fund. We wanted other families to experience the superb care only nurses can give. Providing a quality educational experience for the next generation of nurses seemed the best way to do this,” said Sheldahl. After Carl’s passing, the family took steps to establish the Mary and Carl Cacciatore Memorial Endowed Nursing Scholarship for second-year nursing


students attending Mercy College of Health Sciences. Today, twenty-three years later, the scholarship fund continues to benefit nursing students each year.

The Sheldahl Family’s Generosity Continues Mary and her husband, Tom, made the decision to continue their support of Mercy College of Health Sciences both financially and through volunteerism. Mary was appointed to Mercy College’s Board of Directors in 2013. Recently, Tom and Mary completed a generous stock transfer benefitting not only the Cacciatore Scholarship Fund but also Mercy College’s President’s Innovation Fund. The President’s fund gives the college flexibility to direct funds to priority areas as needed. “We felt it was important to help the college achieve their vision through supporting the President’s fund. We have confidence in how the college handles their resources and know they use every gift to strengthen and sustain the college’s mission,” said Sheldahl.

“Mercy showed me what compassion really is,” related Sheldahl. “When my mother was hospitalized with complications from diabetes, the nurses at Mercy were extraordinary.

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“Throughout time Americans have influenced the lives of current and future generations through their philanthropic support. We are grateful to Mary and Tom for their generosity in impacting the lives of our students,” stated Lynda Jacobson, Mercy Foundation Executive Director of Gift Planning. “As you consider your own giving, know that your philanthropic plan can be designed in a variety of ways based upon your own unique needs and preferences. “

Today Gifts You can make a Today gift benefitting Mercy College initiatives immediately by:

A Board Member’s Philanthropy

Your Gifts Will Help Mercy College Educate Future Health Care Providers Today and Forever

• Giving a cash gift either through currency, check or credit card to Mercy Foundation. • Making a stock gift to Mercy Foundation allowing you to eliminate some of the tax liability you may face.

Forever Gifts One of the most practical ways to make a Forever gift benefitting Mercy College may be through your estate. Mercy Foundation can work with your financial advisor or attorney to discuss the following options: • Wills or living trusts: These are known as bequests and can be accomplished by working with your attorney to include a few sentences in your will or living trust stating your desire to make an estate gift to Mercy Foundation. • Retirement plan assets: By naming Mercy Foundation as the primary beneficiary on the beneficiary designation form for a percentage of your account’s final value, you can make a tax-wise gift to support the college’s work after your lifetime. • Life insurance policies: By naming Mercy Foundation on your beneficiary designation form, you can provide a fixed dollar amount or a percentage of a net death benefit to support the college’s work. You can also transfer ownership of your life insurance policy to the Mercy Foundation. • Charitable annuity or remainder trust: Through a charitable annuity gift or charitable remainder trust (CRT), you make a gift and in return, you or someone you designate, receives income for life or a term of years (CRT). After your lifetime or designee’s lifetime, the remaining balance of your annuity will support Mercy College.

Why Give? Mary’s message is simple, “Look into your heart and determine what is important to you. Let that guide you in your giving decisions.”

Lynda Jacobson, Mercy Foundation Executive Director of Gift Planning, would be pleased to provide you with comprehensive information on making a gift to Mercy College of Health Sciences. Please contact Lynda at ljacobson@ or call (515) 643-8025.


Students Earn National Recognition

Student Resolutions Adopted at National Convention Four members of the Mercy College Association of Nursing Students (MCANS) developed and presented two resolutions submitted for consideration to the 2013 National Student Nurses Association (NSNA) Convention in spring 2013 in North Carolina; both CANS resolutions were approved and adopted by the NSNA House of Delegates. Mercy College

MCANS leaders Tracy Thompson, ASN ‘13, Jannet Van Vang, ASN ‘13, Thomas Stein, ASN ‘13 and Samantha Studer, ASN ‘13 presented a resolution that had been vetted by the Iowa Association of Nursing Students (IANS) during their state convention focusing on the “education and increasing awareness of pain assessment in older adults with cognitive impairment.” IANS state delegates voted to forward the resolution as the only action from the state of Iowa. The second resolution from the floor of the national meeting presented by MCANS focused on the “need to increase outreach and recruitment of ethnic minority students into nursing schools to better align the nursing workforce with the increasing diverse population in the United States.” The resolution encouraged the development of a promotional campaign through the national organization’s website and through mentoring programs in middle and high schools to promote nursing careers with minority populations. “The fact that two resolutions developed by the members of MCANS were approved and adopted at the national level for implementation is a significant milestone for the Mercy College nursing program. This is yet another example of the great strides towards Mercy becoming a nationally-recognized nursing program,” said Dr. Shirley Beaver, Dean of the School of Nursing. When asked to share their experiences from the convention, Thompson said “When student nurses make decisions together it unites our profession, makes us stronger, and we have greater impact.” Van Vang added how grateful she was for the opportunity to “network with students and faculty from across the country and most of all, appreciate the challenges of creating and presenting a resolution at the national level, which has shaped me into becoming a great advocate for the public.”

Pictured left to right: Madeline Reeves, Paige Henggeler, Janet VanVang, Sam Studer, Joe Mowers, Morgan Decker, Ashley Hilsabeck, Kassi Van Wyk, Chad Reyna, Paige Thompson, Ashley Ladroma, Tracy Thompson, Amy Massey, and Juliet Becker 36

VitalSigns Winter 2014

Mercy College

Association of Nursing Students


Association of Nursing Students

Updates During the fall 2013 IANS convention, Mercy College students successfully passed two additional resolutions: “In support of expanding nursing knowledge of pharmacology through continuing education” and “In support of increasing awareness and education on the effects of polypharmacy in the elderly” that are being considered for the 2014 NSNA Convention, potentially continuing the streak of influence coming from nursing students attending Mercy College. Congratulations to the following Mercy students who were elected into officer positions with the Iowa Association of Nursing Students for 2013-14; Tracy Thompson – State President, Joe Mowers - State Legislative and Educational Director, and Amy Massey - State Public Relations Director.

2013 Alumni Luncheon Celebrated in Former Lutheran Church

Nineteen alumni, spouses and friends of the College enjoyed wonderful weather and spiritual sites on their pilgrimage to Italy from October 30 to November 9, 2013. Participants visited Venice, Florence, Assisi and Rome, including a Wednesday audience with Pope Francis, along with an estimated 100,000 pilgrims from around the world.

Pat McDermott and Sr. Maurita Soukup, RSM College Board member, enjoy being serenaded by an accordion player as they ply the canals of Venice.

Jean Henn, DN ’55, Phyllis, DN ’64 and Dick Kaufman used the trip as a family gathering. Jean and Dick are sibblings.

Even in sharing Pope Francis with 100,000 other pilgrims, some members of the group were able to get good standing room locations along the path of the Pope’s vehicle.

Alumni Happenings

2013 Italy Pilgrimage a Success

Gortz Haus Bistro in Grimes, Iowa, a former Lutheran church, was the site for the annual Christmas Luncheon on what turned out to be a cold and snowy morning. The food was wonderful and the conversations were joyous!

Julia Sondag, DN ’55 and Mary Francis Davison, DN ’51 had a great time learning more about the plans for the 50 year reunion from Freda Owens, DN ’64 and Barbara Bravard, DN ’64 (not pictured).

President Decker wished those in attendance a wonderful Christmas and shared some updates on what had been happening at the College this fall. She stood on the raised altar of the former sanctuary to address those in attendance. It was a wonderful setting! 37

Alumni Happenings

Alumni Association Merger Completed and New Advisory Committee Grows to 20 After discussions for several years and more than a year of dialogue about the structure of the new organization, the Mercy College Alumni Association Advisory Board has grown to 20 members representing all alumni. Under new Governing Principles (available for view at the new organization unites all alumni of Mercy College and its historical academic legacy programs into one governing body, the Advisory Committee, with 33% of all seats reserved for non-nursing alumni. The association no longer operates as an independent organization, but operates within the College, through the assistance of the Vice President of External Affairs, or their designee. “I am so appreciative of the many nursing alumni board members who stayed on in the transition year (2012-13), while we got started. I really appreciate the leadership of Karen Gamerdinger, who was chairperson for the new organization. We have been blessed with the addition of some wonderful alumni of the School of Allied Health and Liberal Arts & Sciences, thanks to the work of Karen Norris, who assumed the chairperson role for 2013-14,” said Brian Tingleff, Vice President of External Affairs. Under the new structure, the advisory committee currently operates with four sub-committees: Nominating, Scholarship & Education, Special Events and Stewardship (special committee). The new organization no longer operates under a membership and dues structure, so that all alumni are encouraged to participate by virtue of their graduation from one of our educational programs.

Mercy College Alumni Association Advisory Board Members – 2014-16 Chairperson Karen Norris

Dr. Joan McCleish Diploma Nurse Class of 1980 (term ends 2014)

Vice Chairperson Kathy Goetz

Jennifer Miller Associate of Science in Nursing Class of 2009 and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Class of 2010 (term ends 2016)

Secretary Jennifer Miller

Mary Jane Miller Kate Bowersox Associate of Science in Nursing Class of 2002 and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Class of 2006 (term ends 2016)

Rose Cunion Diploma Nursing Class of 1966 (term ends 2015)

Chidananda Dahal Certificate in Medical Assisting Class of 2013 (term ends 2015)

Jane DeGooyer Diploma Nursing Class of 1981 (term ends 2015)

Karen Gamerdinger Diploma Nursing Class of 1982, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Class of 2002 (term ends 2014)

Kathy Goetz Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration Class of 2009 (term ends 2014) 38

Rhonda Heim Diploma Nursing Class of 1973 (term ends 2016)

Joe Jefferies Diploma Radiologic Technology Class of 1968 (term ends 2016)

Jennifer Kirstein Associate of Science in Nursing Class of 2012 (term ends 2016)

James Laughlin Associate of Science in Physical Therapist Assistant Class of 2011 (term ends 2016)

James Machamer Bachelor of Science in Health Care Administration Class of 2008 (term ends 2016)

Janice Mathias Diploma Radiologic Technology Class of 1969 (term ends 2015)

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Diploma Nursing Class of 1956 (term ends 2014)

Karen Norris Diploma Radiologic Technology Class of 1978 (term ends 2015)

Nicole Rayman Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences Class of 2011 (term ends 2016)

Rachel Reynolds Associate of Science in Nursing Class of 2003 and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Class of 2007 (term ends 2015)

Dr. Margaret Richey Diploma Nursing Class of 1982 (term ends 2015)

Cathy P. Smith Diploma Nursing Class of 1976 (term ends 2015)

Mary Anthofer Stessman, DN ‘63

LaNonne Cormaney Berry, DN ‘63

Sandy Detrick Caligiuri, DN ‘63

Mary and Bob were married on August 24, 1963 and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. They have two grown boys. Four months after her retirement, she was diagnosed with breast cancer but is proud to say she is now a five-year survivor. Since they live on two acres, they keep very busy with mowing, weeding, gardening and taking care of her perennial beds.

Next year, LaNonne will celebrate 50 years of marriage, and is happily settled in Arizona. For the last decade or more she has carried for her two grandchildren, and about to work herself out of that job as the youngest is 12 years old now! Her daughter also graduated from the Mercy School of Nursing. These days she claims to be pretty lazy, playing internet poker, reading, and running kids up and down the street. They still have a big house and yard, but are talking about downsizing but haven’t got around to it so far.

Sandy retired in December 2012 after a career in clinical (acute care) and nursing education. She has a married daughter and with three grandchildren. Her family fills her days since retirement.

Rita Diehl Dauw, DN ‘63

Barb and Gary celebrated their 50th anniversary on June 23, 2013. Gary gave Barb the diamond on her eighteenth birthday, and she was “able” to wear her ring during three years of nurses school. They had three daughters, two still living and are proud grandparents for three grandchildren. After years of nursing, Barb developed severe scoliosis and had extensive back surgery in 2005 -- 3 rods, 7 fusions, and 15 screws. She now spends her days playing bridge, canasta and Mah Jongg.

Rose Bordenaro Knosp, DN ‘63

Rose met a wonderful guy, Samuel McAcleer and they were married Aug. 17, 2013. Her daughter has two children and is proud to report the arrival of her great grandson. She retired from nursing in 2004 and moved to the Villages, Florida. She and her twin sister teach two line dancing classes at the Lifelong Learning Center and one free class through the Recreation Department. Her days are filled with golf and line dancing.

Rita is married with three sons and six grandchildren. She retired from Mayo Health Care System and American Red Cross. She maintains her license to help with immunizations and community events. She still volunteers with her church and also with community events.

Barb Fetzer Bryant, DN ‘63

Humility. She obtained a BSW at Marycrest College in Davenport. She ended up in Phoenix at Maricopa County Hospital, where she met and later married her husband, Ted, while he was doing his internship at the county hospital. Ted was one of the last physicians to be drafted and went into the Navy. After military service, they settled in Georgia and now live next to their daughter and two grandsons. Their son died as an infant. Her case management career focused on working with people with AIDS in the early days of the epidemic. Her experiences with the disease taught her the value of life and the love of God. A double cancer survivor herself, she now loves to travel and canoe, go boating and bird watching and photography.

News and Notes

News and Notes - 1963

Veronica Houston Kearns, DN ‘63

Linda Hale Holloway, DN ‘63 After graduation, Linda moved to St. Louis and worked as a nurse for a couple years, but felt a restlessness that resulted in her entering the convent at 24, joining the Sisters of

Veronica has three children and six grandchildren. She didn’t work very long so she is proud to report she has been retired for years! She is a quilter, reads a lot, and is involved in the community and enjoys traveling. Connie Jaynes Thompson, DN, ‘63 After graduation Connie worked at Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames. She and her husband had two sons. She was widowed in 1989. She retired from Mercy Central Internal Medicine in March 2009. It took a while to adjust to retirement but she has learned to enjoy it, keeping busy with yard work, quilting and some volunteer activities. Her sons are both in West Des Moines, but she has no grandchildren.


News and Notes

Donna Lynch Loughry, DN ‘63

for hobbies: cooking, reading and golf. Gertrude O’Hearn Ault, DN ‘63

Donna married her childhood sweetheart (Lee) in 1964 and remain sweethearts to this date; resulting in two wonderful children and two grandchildren. In retirement she takes care of her family, including her mother; who passed in 2012 at age 94; sewing and quilting, gardening, cooking and canning. She recently added to her activities ceramics and personal computing classes. She also serves as secretary for our local neighborhood association.

Gertrude was married to Vernon on January 19, 1963, and was the first student nurse to be married before graduation (and she was 4 months pregnant at graduation). They had six children, 13 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. She has been babysitting two of the grandchildren since birth, which keeps her very busy; while also enjoying a big garden. Vernon died October 17, 2011 at home with all the kids with him. Joann Olson Nizzi, DN ‘68

Kathleen Lynch Ladd, DN ‘63

After receiving my nursing diploma, she worked at Mercy Hospital and married Denny in 1964. Later, Denny set up a law practice in Jefferson, Iowa and she went to work at the Greene County Medical Center. During my tenure there she completed her BSN from Buena Vista College. In 2007, she was honored as one of “Iowa’s Great Nurses” and retired that same year; it was a wonderful culmination to her career. They have three children, one boy and two girls and they have six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. In retirement we spent two months in Florida the past two winters. In addition, there is more time 40

Joann, originally a member of the Class of 1963, returned to Mercy School of Nursing after a five year break to give birth to two boys. Although not a member of the class, she always thought of the class of 1963 as her class. After working for a year after graduation, Patricia Meintel invited you to join the Nursing Faculty where she spent the next 38 years! She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Drake University, a BSN at Grandview College, a Masters in Nursing with an emphasis in Community Health and Education at The University of Iowa and finally a Doctorate in Education at the College of St. Mary in Omaha. In addition to two sons, she has five granddaughters. She loves to sew and quilt and usually enter something in the Iowa State Fair. She also participates in parish health nursing with her church and enjoys service

projects in the community of Ankeny. She is also a breast cancer survivor of six years. Patricia Picard Taylor, DN ‘63

sons. Nearly her entire career was spent at St John’s Mercy Medical Center in Missouri (39 years); the majority in nursing management and administration. She has two grandchildren. Marilyn Ryan Keller, DN ‘63

Pat was married the week after graduation, and remained married to Don until his death in 1989. Together they had six children; four girls and twin boys, and now nine grandchildren. She worked for Mercy – Des Moines for 33 years, about 29 of those years in management, before retiring in 2003. Today she spends her days going to daily Mass and then on to coffee with the Ladies. She is very active in Catholic Daughters of the Americas both locally and state wide, and volunteers at St. Mary’s Food Pantry in Des Moines. Her passion is reading, especially murder mysteries. She also loves to travel, setting out with Joann Olson, including trips to Ireland, Alaska, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, Jordan and Israel. They followed Moses out of Egypt to the Promised Land, only it didn’t take them 40 years. Kathy Piering Smith, DN ‘63

Kathy married Kent Smith in 1963, one week after graduation and they headed for southern California where he worked in the aerospace industry. Together they had two

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Marilyn and her husband Dave, have been married for 49 years and are living in Omaha, Nebraska. They have two children and eight grandchildren. She stays busy in retirement with grandkids activities, visiting nursing homes, church volunteering and travelling with Dave. Karen Saunders York, DN’63

Karen celebrated her 50th Wedding Anniversary on October 12, 2013. She and her husband have three children, three grandchildren and one great grandchild. They also have two step granddaughters. She is retired after a 42 year career in nursing.

Vicki Stenger Willenborg, DN ‘63

for Easter; our first year away at Christmas! She loves to walk, read, sew, and spend time with family and friends.

Sandra Wasson McClintock, DN ‘63

Donna Thimmesch Glas, DN ‘63

Kathy retired from the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals in 2006 after working as a Health Facility Surveyor for 20 years. Her husband passed away in 2008. Together they had three sons and five grandchildren. She keeps busy with yard work, reading, playing cards and some crocheting. She also loves to travel and spend time with family and friends. Janee Scott Garrett, DN ‘63 Janee and Len have been married for 47 years and have two sons. Her husband spent almost 30 years in the U.S. Coast Guard so their family life included many moves. As a volunteer, she was the director of a crisis pregnancy center and co-founded an abstinence-only sex education program for the public schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They find themselves remaining quite busy in retirement with involvements at their church, teaching and leading our senior fellowship as well as doing personal disciplining. They also love to travel when they can. Mary Spencer Thompson, DN ‘63 Mary has two children and five grandchildren, one boy and four girls. She worked as a staff nurse for many years in Creston at the Greater Community Hospital, before retiring in 1993. She enjoys going out to eat and going to movies with her friends.

Vicki and Karen, her life partner of 30 years, are actively involved in the lives of Vicki’s two sons, one daughter, three granddaughters and two grandsons. With Karen’s family, the extended family includes two more daughters, two grandsons and a granddaughter. After completing a Master of Arts in Business Administration from Webster University in 1985, Vicki was recruited to Hawaii to merge two home health agencies, over the course of four years. When the merger was completed, the company had six offices on five islands, 450 employees and 1500 clients receiving service. In August 2011, Vicki and Karen moved to Colorado, where they volunteer at the kindergarten, play cards and garden. Their home is at 8200 feet elevation on 35.6 acres which backs up to forest which will never be developed. Deer, bear, bobcat and fox are some of the wildlife that wanders through their yard. Jo Taylor McKeown, DN ‘63 Jo and Gary will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in June 2014. They have six children and 13 grandchildren. Jo worked in Shenandoah, Iowa from 1971 to 2004 and they moved to a rural home in Savannah, Mo and they did a lot of trailering. Two years ago, they sold our trailer and bought a winter home in Mesa, AZ. This spring they sold the acreage and moved to a townhome in St. Joseph, Missouri. They will spend the winter in Mesa, returning home

Donna and her husband, Joe were married in 1964. Together they have six children and 14 grandchildren. They love to travel around the world, first with his job at Du-Pont and after retirement from their home in South Carolina. Together they enjoy clay shooting. Separately, Joe likes to hunt and Donna loves photography. The Red Cross has stayed with her for 40 years as she still teaches first aid and CPR for the community. They are planning their 50th wedding anniversary next year. Terry Thompson Holman, DN ‘63

Terry retired in 2009 from St. John’s in Joplin, Missouri after 26 years. (The same hospital was destroyed in the F-5 tornado in 2011.) She married Ken in 1966 in Des Moines and together they had three children and two grandchildren. In retirement, she enjoys playing bridge; she belongs to three groups so she gets to play often. She also enjoys antiquing, reading and taking Bible study courses. Within the past year they have built their first (AND LAST) home. It was on Ken’s bucket list; not hers!

News and Notes

Kathy Seeman Campbell, DN ‘63

Sandra married Gary in 1968. Together they have two children and four grandchildren. Following graduation she was a nursing instructor for seven years at St. Luke’s School of Nursing and Marycrest College in Davenport. Her husband is still practicing law and Sandra continues to care for her 92-year-old father. Barbara Wilhelm Broderick, DN ‘63

Barbara has lived in Des Moines ever since graduation. She married Tom Broderick in 1964 and together they have three children and eight grandchildren. She only worked as a nurse for about 5 years after graduation, instead opening a card and gift shop. She eventually operated two locations until retiring in 2000. She discovered after retirement that she enjoyed gardening. She also volunteers for West Des Moines Human Services, in the clothes closet. She is now focusing on remodeling their house which she feels was neglected while working so much.

What’s New With You? Share some news with classmates in our News & Notes section of the magazine. Visit notes and submit your news. We’d love to hear from you!


News and Notes

Sympathy Your prayers are requested for the family and friends of these graduates who have died since our last publication. If you have news of other alumni deaths we invite your feedback so that we can share news in the next issue; contact External Affairs with details. Alphabetical by last name: Margaret (Niles) Albertson, Diploma Nursing, 1941, died November 29, 2013

Patricia Leon, Diploma Nursing, 1977 died November 3, 2012

Dorothy Smith, Diploma Nursing, 1948 died April 22, 2013

Kyle Arthur, Certificate in Nuclear Medicine Technology, 2010 died July 2, 2011

Trudy (Osweiler) Lester, Diploma Nursing, 1961 died September 26, 2011

Ellen (O’Neill) Smith, Diploma Nursing, 1951 died June 24, 2013

Thelma Luther, Diploma Nursing, 1934 died in September 2011

Helen (Edmundson) Southard, Diploma Nursing, 1948 died December 18, 2012

Janet (Triplett) Brick, Diploma Nursing, 1962 died October 1, 2011 Diane Capaldo, Diploma Nursing, 1982 died November 12, 2012 Frances (O’Deay) Cowles, Diploma Nursing, 1948 died July 10, 2013 Dolores (Galleger) Davis, Diploma Nursing, 1949 died June 19, 2011 Eldon Dirks, Certificate in Clinical Laboratory Science, 1977 died July 2, 2012 Erin (Cunningham) Downs, ASN, 2003 died August 27, 2011 John Durbala, Diploma Nursing, 1966 died May 15, 2013

Margaret (Sherman) Lynch, Diploma Nursing, 1951 died in June 2011 Mary Maher, Diploma Nursing, 1966 died October 4, 2012 Jean Meinders, BSN, 2002 died November 3, 2013 Mary Molloy, Diploma Nursing, 1936 died September 3, 2011 Beverly (Ward) Mullen, Diploma Nursing, 1950 died in October 2011 Isabel Negrete, Diploma Nursing, 1955 died November 12, 2011 Frances (McKee) Olson, Diploma Nursing, 1947 died in May 2012

Delores (Sheehy) Fane, Diploma Nursing, Alice (Sullivan) Pearson, Diploma 1953 died September 10, 2011 Nursing, 1945 died in June 2011 Sheila Ferring, Diploma Nursing, 1968 Stacey Pick, Certificate in Clinical died June 3, 2012 Laboratory Science, 1995 died in Gloria (Dobson) Garton, Diploma September 2012 Nursing, 1950 died June 26, 2011 Mildred Rastovac, Diploma Nursing, Sr. Camillus Madeline Healy, Diploma 1947 died February 12, 2013 Nursing, 1936 died November 4, 2011 Luella (Augustine) Richter, Diploma Clare (McGreevy) Hudson, Diploma Nursing, 1948 died October 27, 2011 Nursing, 1949 died May 5, 2012 Ruth (Vanderzyl) Ridenour, Diploma Greta (Saunders) Jeffries, Diploma Nursing, 1937 died July 1, 2011 Nursing, 1968 died February 20, 2012 Susan (Keating) Sanford, ASN, 1999 Lewine Kunz, Diploma Nursing, 1939 died October 19, 2011 died October 21, 2013 Heather (Thomas) Schroeder, ASN, Mari Ann (Massick) Lash, Diploma 2002 died September 12, 2011 Nursing, 1972 died in November 2011 Mikki Smith, Diploma Nursing, 1988 Sally (Martin) Leahy, Diploma Nursing, died August 17, 2012 1962 died September 11, 2012 42

VitalSigns Winter 2014

Janet Spitler, Diploma Nursing, 1954 died February 1, 2013 Marie (Jordan) Uthe, Diploma Nursing, 1948, died August 18, 2012 G. Frances (Shiltz) Weieneth, Diploma Nursing, 1945 died December 9, 2013 Agnes (Bellendier) Weissinger, Diploma Nursing, 1952 died July 10, 2013 Kristina (Zimmerman) Willson, Diploma Nursing, 1985 died January 26, 2013 Nettie (Osgood) Wirth, Diploma Nursing, 1956 died November 13, /2013

An untypical day in the classroom It had been a cold and rainy November Tuesday. All the students in Pat Sommerfeld’s Medical Billing & Coding class at Mercy College commented about it being a bad day. Jeannine and Kelly were discussing problems with Kelly’s landlord but they came to no conclusions. During the evening break, another student, Candy, said to Pat that she might not be in class Thursday night because she was being evicted from her rental home. All efforts to find help with her rent had been exhausted. Her recent successful court case for child support would not produce a first payment until December. She had no money for November’s rent. If she lost her home, she would also lose custody of her daughter. Exasperation blended with resignation filled her voice. Jeannine, who had recently and tragically been widowed spoke up. She had been granted a small insurance settlement as a result of her husband’s death. Jeannine asked how much the rent would be for Candy for the month. Instinctively as Candy responded $600, Jeannine reached down for the checkbook and a pen from her purse.

“God has told me to give you the money,” she said without raising her voice or batting an eye. “I can only make payments to pay you back,” was Candy’s response. Jeannine told her that she didn’t want to be repaid at all. “God told me to help you just now. Pay it forward to someone else when you get back on your feet,” said Jeannine, adding “God wanted me to do this for you now.” Students enrolled in Mercy College’s Medical Billing and Coding Program are hoping to find a new start in a healthcare career. Pat Sommerfeld has been the only teacher to teach this program from its inception more than 15 years ago. She not only instills confidence in her students that they can make it through the 15-week course, she offers free additional tutoring and certification exam assistance after the course is over. Her students are very important to her and they are very successful. But even more important, Pat establishes a classroom environment where the Holy Spirit thrives!




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Vital Signs - Winter 2014 - Mercy College Alumni Magazine  

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