University hires new nursing staff

As Nabholz Construction works to complete the Health Education Building in the next six months, John Brown University is also hiring its nursing faculty.

Joining the new freshman and transfer students at the beginning of the semester, Patsy Cornelius was hired as a new associate professor of nursing at the University. She has worked as a nurse for 36 years and has taught for 14 years. Cornelius comes from the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, where she taught nursing for seven years.

“I have really enjoyed having Dr. Cornelius as a professor. She makes class fun and takes the time to get to know her students and understands what they are going through and what is happening in their life,” Adam Holt, junior nursing major, said.

Jacqueline Craddock, a senior nursing major, said, “I absolutely adore Dr. Cornelius. She is a dynamic personality with a  love for Christ that is evident.”

“I swore I would never teach. I was going to be one of those purists you know, who just worked at the bedside. Then I started interacting with students and absolutely loved it,” Cornelius said.

Ellen Odell, director of the nursing program, said, “She’s also good at curriculum design, which is important when you have a brand new program, to have someone who can build. We were able to hire her early to help with the foundation. She’s not afraid to go on this adventure and redesign the nursing curriculum.”

Cornelius said she is excited to design a unique curriculum.

“We are going to be established as the premier nursing program in the state,” Cornelius said. “We are going to be the only Bachelors of Science in Nursing program that offers a  concept-based curriculum.”

Odell explained that nursing programs are normally set up with a medical model, in which students study diseases for each body system. For example, in a medical model students  would learn about treating asthma, while in a concept-based program students would learn about oxygenation and the respiratory system.

“I love the fact that even though she’s a very experienced educator, she’s always pushing to do better. She’s an outside the box thinker, not afraid to try new stuff. She’s super excited to be here and up for the challenge,” Odell said.

Odell said there are benefits to pioneering a new program. “To start from scratch was a beautiful thing because we could take the best scientific evidence based ways to teach,” she said.

The nursing program is still currently hiring professors. When looking for a new nursing professor, Odell has specific qualifications in mind.

“The number one thing is that they are a fabulous Christian person, that the person walks the walks not just talks the talks,” Odell said.

The second thing Odell looks for are communication skills, both written and verbal.

“It never ceases to amaze me that we are so blessed to have great candidates when there’s a national shortage,” Odell said.

Students also have high hopes for the nursing program. Holt said he would like to see the nursing program become a well-known major like the University’s business and engineering  majors.

“When people talk about those majors, they talk about how great they are and about how well prepared you are for the workforce when you graduate from JBU with that degree. I would like for nursing to get thrown into that conversation too,” Holt said.