By Bob Romantic
GCU News Bureau
Neyra Gonzalez-Bell was ready to give up not only on her nursing education but her profession as a whole before Grand Canyon University helped her rediscover her passion for helping others.
Misha Teague came to GCU intent on maintaining her faith and securing a full-time job. She accomplished both.
The two are among 5,789 nursing students who are eligible to graduate this week – shining examples of the types of students the College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has been sending into the world.
Already the largest nursing program in Arizona, CONHCP also surpassed Arizona State University in its number of pre-licensure graduates in 2012. GCU had 235 pre-licensure grads take the National Council Licensure Examinations (NCLEX), which are required in order to be licensed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. ASU had 218.
Grand Canyon students also received high marks again on the NCLEX. After achieving a 95.79 percent pass rate in 2011 – the best marks of any bachelor’s degree program in the state – it did even better with a 97.02 pass rate in 2012. (The University of Arizona, with only 106 pre-licensure grads, had the top percentage in 2012 with 97.17 percent).
“I think the scores are a testament to what we do with the clinical part of our program,” said Anne McNamara, dean of CONHCP. “Our grads enter the field as really well-qualified beginning nurses. They’re not experienced nurses yet, but our clinical partners like to hire them and feel they are well-qualified to enter the workforce.”
Growing as a Christian nurse
Teague is one such nurse.
She will graduate Thursday with her bachelor’s degree in nursing and already has a job lined up at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. Teague will work at VUMC while also studying for her master’s degree after being accepted into the acute surgery tract of its nurse residency program.
“I’ve been nothing but blessed since I came to GCU,” said Teague, 22, a senior from Peoria. “All the scholarships I’ve received and the friends I’ve made, I feel like it’s just been a blessing. … I’ll wear my GCU nursing pin with pride in Nashville.”
Teague said she became interested in Vanderbilt because it carries many of the same values as GCU.
“They don’t just count you as a number. They really value their nurses and nursing students,” Teague said. “It’s the same reason I chose GCU.”
Teague said she had scholarship offers out of high school and could have attended ASU, but she liked the Christian environment at GCU and smaller class sizes.
“The real deciding factor was that I could grow as a Christian,” she said. “I felt I could have lost that somewhere else, because I know that college is a huge time when kids lose their faith. I feel like I’ve done the opposite and actually gotten closer to God and become a lot better Christian since coming to GCU.”
Rediscovering a passion for nursing
Gonzalez-Bell had a similar outcome as an online student at GCU.
She was working as a nurse at the University of Arizona Health Network in Tucson when she decided to pursue her RN to BSN degree. That was put on hold, however, when she injured her back in 2010 while reaching across a bed to prevent a patient from pulling out her life support tube after she had woken up.
The patient ended up being fine, but Gonzalez-Bell said she started feeling pain in her thoracic spine and neck.
“I didn’t get any payment from workers comp for a long time because it took the plan administrator a while to sort through everything, and we lost our house in the process,” Gonzalez-Bell said. “I was really upset with nursing as a whole.”
But after starting classes at GCU, Gonzalez-Bell said her attitude changed.
“Just taking classes and talking to other people who are also struggling all over the country… Nurses do really wonderful things and the professors at Grand Canyon are wonderful,” Gonzalez-Bell said. “GCU helped me love nursing again. I truly enjoyed classes in spirituality, ethics and research. I continue to tell my coworkers that GCU is the place to complete their RN to BSN degree.”
Gonzalez-Bell, 34 and the mother of two, has never been to the GCU campus but is looking forward to her graduation ceremony on Saturday.
“GCU gave me hope for the future to do what I want to do,” said Gonzalez-Bell, a 4.0 student who wants to continue her education and has applied at six anesthesia schools in Texas and Florida. “I’m pretty confident with the references I got and my experience and grades. I’m hoping I have a choice of where to go.”
Contact Bob Romantic at 602.639.7611 or [email protected].