On Saturday, August 23rd, St George’s University inducted 25 students into the inaugural four-year program leading to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. In a ceremony attended by Grenada’s Prime Minister, Hon. Tillman Thomas, the charter class was urged to follow the example of the many outstanding role models in their profession.
Provost of St. George’s University, Dr. Allen Pensick, used the occasion to spotlight the illustrious past of the profession which stemmed from individuals’ desire to serve the needs of the sick. Keynote speaker Dr. Judith Balcerski, a registered nurse who served as Dean of the Barry University School of Nursing for 33 years, congratulated these ‘brave and privileged individuals’ on being the first nursing class at SGU. She encouraged them to continually reflect upon the many outstanding men and women who entered the profession years before: Catherine of Sienna, Clara Barton, Florence Nightingale and Mother Theresa to name a few. Dr. Balcerski explained that learning their stories will bring to life the heart and soul of the nursing profession and will serve as inspiration throughout their journey in nursing education and nursing practice.
Drawing upon an impressive career, Dr. Balcerski eloquently defined the profession as both a science and an art, to which she added “sense and heart.” From these four words, Dr. Balcerski created an acronym, SASH, which she threaded throughout her speech and inspired a new generation of nurses. “Remember nursing as a sash, a mantle across your shoulders of science, art, sense, and heart.”
Dr. Balcerski encouraged the students to “practice by evidence rather than myth,” as they apply the skills learned in the anatomy, physiology and chemistry classrooms. This, she explained, is the science aspect of the nursing profession. She then defined the art of nursing, and encouraged the students to employ creative methods in dispatching their duties for the benefit of their patients. Creativity, said Dr. Balcerski, can help a patient accept treatment when they are fearful, eat when then have no appetite and sleep when they are not willing. The sense comes into play each day, as good sense sustains oneself when tired, frustrated and in need of a fresh perspective. Above all, Dr. Balcerski stressed, “heart is what presses you to take care of someone who is different from you. Heart will press you to take care of the criminal and the Queen equally.”
To mark their entry into nursing, the students were presented with stethoscopes and lamps. During the ceremony the aspiring nurses joined members of the profession in making the Florence Nightingale Pledge.
The Nursing Program was conceived as a response to the mandate by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that all nurses in the region hold a BSN degree by the year 2010. This program is uniquely structured to allow enrolees, after 30 months, to sit regional and international licensing exams. Upon successful completion of these exams, the students can join the workforce while completing their studies. Chancellor of the University, Dr. Charles Modica says that through this initiative, St. George’s University is extending its commitment to building human resource capacity, increasing access to quality tertiary education and improving health care in developing countries.