School of Nursing completes master’s program in Thailand
The students of the LLUSN off-campus master’s program pose for a picture at Mission College, Thailand.
Loma Linda University School of Nursing celebrated the final session of its successful Thailand cohort of the international master’s program with a recognition ceremony, held February 4.
The recognition ceremony was held in the campus church at Mission College, Thailand, which has also served as the host for the LLUSN master’s degree program. This served as the final program for the 22 nurses from 12 different countries.
Richard Hart, MD, DrPH, chancellor of Loma Linda University, gave the address and shook the hand of each nurse that was recognized. Also present was Marilyn Herrmann, PhD, RN, dean of the School of Nursing, who congratulated each nurse upon recognition.
The off-campus master’s degree program is one of two that the School of Nursing has running concurrently—one in Thailand and one in South Africa. Both programs have been a project of the School of Nursing for a number of years.
Six years ago, Helen King, PhD, RN, former dean of the School of Nursing; Lois Van Cleve, PhD, RN, FAAN, former associate dean of the graduate program, School of Nursing; and Patricia Jones, PhD, RN, FAAN, director of the office of international nursing, School of Nursing, developed a program that the School could take out across the world.
“For a number of years, we have had single individuals who want to come to Loma Linda and get their master’s degree in nursing, and we have occasionally been able to sponsor some,” says Elizabeth Bossert, DN
Richard H. Hart, MD, DrPH, chancellor of Loma Linda University, receives the class picture from Jyothi Christian (center) and Mingli Yang.
S, RN, associate dean of the graduate program, LLU School of Nursing. “However, the requests were becoming more and more frequent, and it was becoming evident that around the world there were nurses who needed an option for a master’s degree that didn’t include holding classes on Sabbath.
“Many of these individuals are being asked by their governments to upgrade to a master’s degree in nursing and they simply didn’t have a way to do it where they were located.”
The program was designed to occur over four years with four sessions of at least a month each at a distant location. Faculty taught two week sessions at a time to instruct the students.
“We came up with a creative way to bring the program to them,” says Dr. Bossert.
Over the following months, the students could complete their coursework and send it via e-mail to the course instructors.
“Holding this program at Mission College was a key piece to our success,” says Dr. Jones. “They had the facilities, contacts, and central location that made this program possible.”
In addition to working at Loma Linda University, Dr. Jones is also associate director of the department of health ministries for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, with responsibility for nursing around the world.
She has spent most of her career in Asia developing nursing schools and feels very connected to the issue of preparing nurses beyond a bachelor’s degree.
“The need for this program has existed for a long time,” Dr. Jones says.
“The impact of this program is so great, but perhaps the greatest satisfaction of all is seeing positive changes in the students. Education is empowerment. Seeing all of these graduates empowered for the future—there’s hardly any greater reward.”
According to Dr. Jones, one of the biggest hurdles that the program had in getting off of the ground was finances.
“The need for qualified faculty at many of our international institutions has always been present,” says Dr. Jones. “Finances are always an issue, but Loma Linda was presented with this need and it’s a need that we are uniquely qualified to fill.”
The Chan Shun Foundation, the Hilde family, Help International, the Nelson–Keller International Scholarship Fund, and other friends of the School of Nursing soon made it clear that they would support the program financially.
“The opportunity to be a part of this program over the last four years was very unique,” says Dr. Bossert. “To meet these students and be able to give them a chance to get a master’s in nursing from Loma Linda made everything that we did worthwhile.
“It will make such a difference for each of the students, and for their countries.”
Many of the nurses were from Adventist institutions overseas; however, a few nurses were chosen as representatives from their country’s government.
Lynn Lynn Thet, a nurse from Myanmar, took a competitive exam along with other nurses in her country. Based on her results, she was selected for the opportunity to attend the program.
“When I first arrived,” says Ms. Thet, “I found it scary. I didn’t know anyone, and everyone seemed so much bigger than me. But everyone here is so kind.”
During the recognition ceremony, it was obvious that the students felt a very deep connection to Loma Linda University. In fact, the class formed the first international chapter of the LLUSN alumni association.
“It means a lot to me to be a graduate of Loma Linda University School of Nursing because God made it possible for me to be a student here,” says Jyothi Christian, a nurse from India, who also served as the class president. “He didn’t bring me to Loma Linda, but He brought Loma Linda to me.”
During the recognition ceremony, the class presented Dr. Hart with a framed photo of each of them to add to the LLUSN alumni wall at West Hall.
“I’m very proud of being a graduate student of LLU,” says YuQin Pan, a nurse from China, “but I think that tomorrow, LLU will be very proud of us for being their students. We are going to do a lot to contribute to society, the patient, and to the people around us.”
Dr. Jones hopes that what was taught to each of these nurses is something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.
“Nursing is all about making a difference in another human being—in their health, their well-being, their empowerment,” says Dr. Jones. “The privilege of being in that position is awesome, whether it be as a nurse with a patient, or as a teacher making a difference in a student’s life—not just for that day, but for the future.”
By Dustin R. Jones, MA