The Citadel

The Military College of South Carolina

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The Nurse's Call

By Maj. Amelia Joseph, Ph.D, RN

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Preparing graduates to serve their communities is part of The Citadel’s mission, and the Swain Department of Nursing is helping to achieve that goal in a direct and meaningful way. As the first head of the department, Maj. Amelia Joseph, Ph.D., RN, knows how vital a comprehensive nursing program is and how necessary the students are who answer the call to serve.

The profession of nursing is a rapidly growing and continuously changing field where the demand for highly skilled, well-qualified nurses is quickly exceeding the supply. Within the next 10 years, it is estimated that one-third of the current nursing workforce will retire. These retirements represent not only a significant decrease in the nursing workforce but also a serious loss of clinical knowledge. To continue to provide the public with quality healthcare, the goal must be to replace retiring nurses with graduates who have strong critical thinking and clinical decision-making skills.

The Citadel has recognized the need to develop the future nursing workforce, both for the military and for the community. With a seven-figure gift courtesy of brothers David C. Swain Jr., ’80, and Dr. Christopher C. Swain, ’81, and their wives, Mary and Debora, The Citadel has established a nursing program.

The Swain Department of Nursing allows both cadets and evening undergraduate students to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing to help meet this growing demand for well-qualified nurses. What compels students to pursue a degree in the field of nursing? Three evening undergraduate students and two cadets talk about what motivated them to enroll in The Citadel’s program.

CADET ANAMALAE TIA

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I am a sophomore in Kilo Company and an Army contract cadet from Vatia, American Samoa. Helping my mother and grandmother take care of my great-grandmother when I was a young girl inspired me to become a nurse. When I visited my great-grandmother in the hospital, the nurses always showed compassion when they talked to me, and I saw that they genuinely cared for their patients. It stuck with me. My father has been in the Army for 27 years, and he influenced my decision to attend The Citadel. I grew up with structure and discipline, and I love the fact that the college is a place of discipline and integrity. I think my Citadel nursing degree will set me apart wherever I go and open more doors. As a part of the medical branch of the military, I will get to see the world, explore other countries, perhaps work as a combat nurse caring for wounded soldiers and serve a wide variety of patients. The nursing major is a rigorous program, and it makes us prioritize everything. The faculty are eager for us to ask questions and never move forward if we don’t understand something. I see our core values in the way we are learning how to interact with patients, their loved ones and our classmates. We do rehearsals—if you are my patient, this is how I will treat you. We are learning how to step back to analyze a situation and how we should react to improve it. At The Citadel, we learn that to be the best, we have to work for it. If I really want to be the best, I have to take all the resources provided to me and work as a team with my classmates. I don’t want just to meet the standards—I want to exceed them.

CHERIE DONEY

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I am a Navy veteran, mother and military wife who has recently completed an associate degree in pre-nursing from a community college in Tacoma, Washington. Juggling my time in the Navy, my children and my husband’s assignments across the United States has delayed the time it has taken me to get to where I am in my education. But I am more dedicated than ever and excited to have been selected to pursue my Bachelor of Science degree in nursing at The Citadel. Nursing has been a calling of mine since I was a teenager. I have a sincere passion for caring for others, as well as a passion for the science behind the care given.

During my time in the Navy, I was blessed to meet and work with people from all parts of the world, which broadened my knowledge of different cultures and societies and which will surely help guide my relationships with and care for future employers and patients. The generous gift from the Swain family allows students like me the opportunity to learn from top clinical and research-affiliated nurses, such as Amelia Joseph—our current advisor, instructor and, most importantly, cheerleader. Completing a degree with The Citadel will only strengthen our abilities to succeed in the future and take advantage of opportunities available within the field of nursing through the vast number of specialties and education advancements offered. The Citadel’s core values of Honor, Duty and Respect are being ingrained in us with each lesson learned to better care and advocate for future patients— all while we fulfill our craving for exceptional education.

CADET LUKE DANIELL

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I am a Delta Company sophomore from Charleston and I am living out my dream at The Citadel. I have wanted to pursue nursing since I was young. My dad is a retired Navy corpsman who now works as a nurse at the Medical University of South Carolina. Just seeing what he does has really inspired me. He works in the pediatrics department with babies, and his job is so fulfilling he sometimes goes to work on his days off to check on patients. As part of the inaugural nursing class we are setting the stage for other cadets. It is exciting to see the future this program has for men in nursing because people often don’t think about nursing as a profession for men.

This program will draw more men into the field of nursing because it’s at The Citadel, and more women will be attracted to The Citadel because it offers a nursing major. The Citadel’s nursing program will help me be a leader when I begin my career. As nurses, we will serve others, and with The Citadel’s leadership training, we learn how to follow and be leaders at the same time. The program also incorporates our core values. For honor, we are under a code of conduct, and there are certain procedures we must follow—if we skip a step, we put someone’s life in danger. We must respect our patients in our care even when we are working long hours, and it is our duty to check on them and not leave our posts. We perform clinical rotations and get to see the different facets of nursing, which help us see where we fit best and what kind of nursing we want to do. For me, nursing means the human connection and having a purpose in life, a calling that is bigger than myself.

TAMAR STERNFELD

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I am honored to be part of the inaugural class of The Citadel’s Swain Department of Nursing. I hold a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in Jewish communal service, and a master’s degree in social work. I have always had a passion for healthcare and have been working in nonprofit management since I finished graduate school. Through all of that, I still felt that I have more to give back, and after exploring my options, I was delighted to find out about The Citadel’s new program. Nurses are versatile. They are healers, patient advocates and counselors. They serve on the front lines to comfort patients in their time of need. Nurses give of themselves every day, both through their knowledge and their skills, to help patients heal from the inside out. Providing not only physical support but also emotional support, they reassure patients and their families. As patient advocates and healers, nurses are partners in the healing process. They are the ones who make the greatest impact on patients and support them in their time of greatest need. Through a series of life events, I have been able to watch firsthand the incredible effect that nurses have on both their patients and their families. I am so grateful for the opportunity to pursue my dreams and make a difference in the lives of patients.

The Citadel’s long and honorable history as a defender of our community, coupled with its reputation of team learning, creates an environment perfect for this new program. In our first class, Introduction to Nursing, we learned about the profession of nursing and the role of a nurse. We explored the opportunities that exist for nurses and learned about the different methodologies of care, the history of nursing and how nurses are often the only defense between patients and disaster. In the course, we learned to become advocates for both patients and their families and to examine not just the patient but also their entire support network. Through this course, we began to build our own network of support, not only for school but also professionally. Learning from Amelia Joseph, who has 38 years of experience in nursing, we have begun to understand how critical the role of the nurse is, and it is one that we do not enter lightly. Through the generosity of the Swain family, The Citadel will be able to meet the growing need for highly trained, well-qualified nurses.

AUSTIN BREN

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I have a background in business with an undergraduate degree from the University of Arizona. I currently work in the insurance industry and serve as a paramedic and firefighter in the Lowcountry while attending evening courses at The Citadel. A degree and career in nursing has long been my dream and the next step to furthering my knowledge and skills in a fastgrowing healthcare field. While the high stress and limited routine of the pre-hospital setting quickly cured for adrenaline, the intimacy and relationships with patients and their families have truly guided me to nursing. When passing on the care of a critical patient to the receiving facility as a first responder, I am left wondering about the patient’s outcome. I feel a void in not being able to continue to take part in the recovery, particularly for pediatrics. My greatest calling, though, has come from volunteering with hospice. Caring for and growing with patients in the final stages of their lives while often simultaneously supporting their loved ones as they grieve takes great attentiveness and compassion. This level of intimate care has filled me with purpose and made more evident my fit in the nursing profession. Finding a program that is challenging, a college that is wellrespected and a schedule that is compatible with other demands on my time has been extremely difficult.

Thankfully, I discovered The Citadel’s evening Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program, which has since exceeded my expectations. Our small classroom setting has encouraged a feeling of community and helped cultivate strong relationships. Amy Joseph, our department head, is experienced, knowledgeable and affable—she is a remarkable leader. Both John E. Weinstein, interim dean of the School of Science and Mathematics, and Connie L. Book, provost and dean of The Citadel, have been present. And a few weeks ago, we had the opportunity to meet the Swain family, who were genuine, inspiring and motivating as they affirmed their faith in us and the program.

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