Keuka College’s long, rich tradition of nursing has given its students a foundation to provide top-notch care to their patients for generations. Building on that foundation, today’s Keuka College nurses face an evolving and versatile future in their profession.
Dr. Elizabeth Scherra Russo ’98, chair of Keuka College’s Division of Nursing, says the future of nursing will require educated, multifaceted professionals who can deliver care competently and compassionately.
“The evidence demonstrates that patient outcomes are improved when nurses have a baccalaureate education, and Keuka College is committed to the preparation of baccalaureate-prepared nurses,” says Dr. Russo also a professor of nursing. “Keuka College’s nursing programs are preparing those future clinicians who will provide care in hospital, clinic, and community settings.”
One of those programs is the College’s dual-degree initiative in partnership with Finger Lakes Health College of Nursing and Health Sciences (FLHCON).
“Students graduate having earned both an associate’s degree in nursing from FLHCON and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Keuka College,” says Dr. Russo.
In addition to the College’s baccalaureate programs, Dr. Russo says, its graduate programs address some of the most critical areas of need both regionally and nationally.
“Keuka College aims to meet the nurse educator shortage and the primary care provider shortage,” she says.
Among the programs she cites:
-A master’s degree in nursing, with a concentration in nursing education;
-The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program, which is offered as both a master’s of science in Nursing and a post-master’s of science certificate.
Whether students earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree from Keuka College, Dr. Russo is confident the College is preparing expert clinicians and educators with its core curriculum.
And she should know. Few are more familiar with the material–-or the experience of learning ta at Keuka College. As a graduate of the program she now teaches, she says she “was very fortunate to study under such excellent nurse educators.”
Indeed, she began benefiting from Keuka College’s programs even before landing on campus.
While a student in the Marion S. Whelan School of Practical Nursing in Geneva, she recalls, “I had the privilege of learning from two excellent nurse educators who were Keuka College alumnae. They encouraged me to continue my nursing education, and I knew I wanted to do that at the college that had prepared them for excellence in nursing practice and education. And of course, once I toured the beautiful campus and gazed out over the magnificent lake—I was sold!”
She says the education she received at the College was “excellent,” and she wants to help carry on that legacy.
“I was inspired by many of my professors while a student here, and I aspired to return to Keuka College as a nurse educator in hopes of making the same impact upon students as they had impressed upon me,” says Dr. Russo.
She lauds both the past and current roster of Keuka College faculty as the perfect educators to teach new nurses. Dr. Russo points to several colleagues or predecessors who sparked the flames of understanding in their students:
- Dr. Jeanine Benwitz Santelli ’83, former professor of nursing
“I remember being so impressed by her in-depth level of knowledge and skill in the areas of physical assessment, pharmacology, and medical-surgical nursing. She inspired me to become a nurse practitioner upon my graduation from Keuka College.”
- Dr. Linda Rossi, former chair of the Division of Nursing
“I remember being very impressed with her leadership of the nursing division, and her passion for ensuring access to high quality nursing education. She was a transformational leader.”
- Kay Vigianni, former associate professor of nursing
“She was an excellent teacher who really challenged us to push ourselves beyond our comfort zones! I completed a minor in gerontology under her guidance, and benefited a great deal from her extensive knowledge and understanding of this field.”
- Nancy Bailey, former professor of nursing
“She was another great teacher. I learned a great deal about public health and community health nursing from her. She was committed to teaching us not only how to care for others, but also the importance of wellness in our own lives.”
“Our faculty are accomplished professionals and excellent teachers who maintain current practice in their area of expertise, whether in education, leadership, or clinical practice,” says Dr. Russo. “I believe that students appreciate their extensive knowledge, as well as their in-depth experience that allows for salient stories and clinical pearls that really bring the abstract concepts they are teaching to life!”
She adds that the experiential learning opportunities through the College’s Field Period® program ensure graduates are current and well-rounded.
“Field Period® provides an excellent opportunity for exploration of possible career opportunities across the many areas of specialty nursing care,” says Dr. Russo.
All of which adds up to the College’s nursing program remaining strong, she says: “I expect that Keuka College’s Division of Nursing will continue to prepare expert nurse clinicians, educators, leaders, and innovators who are ready to meet the healthcare needs of the region, nation, and the world well beyond the next 75 years!”