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About the Division of Nursing

Division of Nursing History, Mission and Philosophy

  • Division of Nursing History

    In 1974, the Department of Nursing and Health was established at DeSales University, formerly Allentown College of St. Francis DeSales.  At that time, there was no institution of higher learning in the Lehigh Valley area that granted baccalaureate degrees in nursing. Nursing leaders from Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, which had close affiliations with the Allentown Diocese, petitioned DeSales to consider establishing a major in nursing. Community needs assessments verified that this type of program would be of value in serving the health care needs of people within the Lehigh Valley. As a result, the University first offered a major in Nursing in 1974, and graduated its first class of undergraduate nursing majors in 1978, granting them the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. All nursing programs had been fully accredited since Fall of 1978 by the National League of Nursing, now the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, until 2015, when the program switched accrediting bodies to the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). In 2019, the Board of Trustees made the decision to separate the Department of Nursing and Health from the Division of Healthcare and made Nursing its own Division. Since 1978, 1966 students have graduated with BSN degrees.

    The Division offered the first graduate program at DeSales in 1984 with the establishment of the master of science in nursing (MSN) program. The first MSN graduates from DeSales were prepared as advanced practice nurses focused on adult health, with options to specialize in the functional roles of clinical nurse specialist, nurse administrator, or nurse educator. Total enrollment in the MSN Program has grown substantially and the Division now offers MSN programs for Nurse Executives/Administrators, Forensic Nursing, and Nursing Informatics, as well as programs that prepare advanced practice nurses as Family Nurse Practitioners, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioners, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioners, and Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialists. Post-Graduate Advanced Practice Nurse (APRN) Certificates are available in the Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist. Post-Graduate Certificates are also available in Forensic Nursing and Nursing Informatics. Enrollment in Post-Graduate APRN certificate remains a small fraction of total enrollment. A post-BSN certificate is available in a Nurse Educator option. Since 1987, 617 students have been awarded MSN degrees at DeSales.

    The Division formally offered a baccalaureate degree completion program, or RN-BSN Program, in 1996. This program was developed in order to meet the higher education needs of registered nurses (RNs) who had either associate’s degrees or diplomas but had not yet achieved a BSN. This program was revised in 2005 so that select RNs without baccalaureate degrees could “fast track” their way to the master’s degree in nursing. Both the RN-BSN program and the RN-BSN/MSN program adhere to the programmatic philosophy and objectives that frame the traditional BSN and MSN programs. Effective December 2019, following completion of the Fall 2019 semester, the RN-BSN/RN-MSN program is no longer being offered.

    An Accelerated Second Degree BSN Program was developed to meet the needs of those students who have completed a four-year bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing and want to attain a bachelor of science in Nursing. This program allows students to complete a BSN degree in 15 months of full-time study. The first class convened in May 2005 and to date the Division has graduated fourteen classes. In Spring 2019, the Accelerated Direct-Entry BSN Plus MSN program was approved and it’s first students have been accepted into the May 2020 cohort.

    In conjunction with the DeSales ACCESS Department, an ACCESS Evening/Weekend Nursing program was developed for adults without previous college degrees or post-secondary education. This program allows working adults the opportunity to complete a four year BSN degree during evening and weekend hours. The first class began nursing courses in the Fall of 2008 and nine cohorts have graduated from the program to date.

    Following a needs assessment completed in 2007, the Division embarked on the establishment of the first doctoral program at DeSales, the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program. In 2011, this program, was initiated to prepare advanced practice nurses in clinical leadership. In 2014, the DNP in Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership with an MBA option and a general DNP option, were established and graduated their first students in the Summer of 2016. Effective in the Fall 2017, the General DNP track closed in order to adhere to the CCNE DNP Essentials regarding advanced practice. At the same time, the MBA option was offered for the Clinical Leadership track. Currently, there are four track options for the Doctor of Nursing Practice: DNP in Clinical Leadership, DNP in Clinical Leadership with MBA, DNP in Executive Leadership, and the DNP in Executive Leadership with MBA. Since 2013, 42 students have graduated with DNP degrees.

  • Division of Nursing Mission

    The mission of the Division of Nursing at DeSales University is to prepare professional, caring, competent undergraduate and graduate nursing students who have the ability to improve domestic and global health outcomes in the Salesian tradition of Christian humanism. Graduates are prepared to assume clinical, leadership, and diverse healthcare positions to contribute to the advancement of nursing and other healthcare professions. Graduates are prepared to further their individual advancement through future academic endeavors and lifelong learning.

  • Division of Nursing Philosophy

    DeSales University Nursing espouses the belief that there is a Christian way of being human. Rooted in the tenets of Christian humanism, persons are viewed holistically and nursing actions foster each person’s full physical, psychological, intellectual, moral, social, aesthetic, and spiritual development.

    The tradition of Salesian Christian humanism embraces an understanding of human life guided always and everywhere by the love of God.  Christian humanism recognizes one’s relationship with God is reflected in one’s relationship with others. God gives us freedom to fully develop our potential through reasoning, prayerful reflection, and social interaction. Decisions we make are centered in this Love; therefore, we treat others with the same respect, dignity, humility, compassion, forgiveness, honesty, and patience with which we expect to be treated.

    The Division of Nursing faculty supports the missions of DeSales University and the Division of Science and Healthcare, which include teaching, scholarship, and service to the university and community. The philosophy of the Division of Nursing comprises beliefs about nursing, human beings, health, and the environment.

    Nursing faculty believe that learning is a collaborative exchange that results in a change in knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.  Nursing faculty create learning environments within which the principles of Christian humanism are demonstrated by nursing faculty and students.  This process promotes the development of critical thinking, leadership qualities, and the commitment to lifelong learning.

Nursing Program Information

Nursing at DeSales

Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society - Mu Omicron Chapter

The Mu Omicron Chapter at DeSales University has inducted over 500 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students along with community nurse leaders into this prestigious society.

Learn More about the nursing honor society