First cohort graduates from MC-TWU nursing program

First cohort graduates from MC-TWU nursing program

May 29, 2020

The first group of students to complete Maryville College’s dual-degree health care and nursing program graduated this May.

Four students – Destiny Ditmore ’20, Raven Keylon ’20, Hannah McIntyre ’20 and Ali Peterson ’20 – now hold two degrees: a bachelor of arts (B.A.) in health care from Maryville College and a bachelor of science (B.S.) in nursing from Tennessee Wesleyan University. All four students have accepted nursing positions at hospitals and medical centers.

The dual-degree arrangement between Maryville College and Tennessee Wesleyan was established in 2018 and allows MC students who pursue the dual-degree program in health care and nursing to get the best of both worlds: a relevant liberal arts education combined with a robust clinical-based professional nursing program.

 Students in the program spend the first two years of their college career at MC, completing 67 credit hours and laying a strong foundation in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, nutrition, chemistry, math and psychology, as well as developing the skills that will position them for leadership and career advancement: resiliency, written and oral communication, and critical thinking.

Curricular and co-curricular experiences at Maryville College strengthen students’ applications to Tennessee Wesleyan, where, upon acceptance, they complete 64 credit hours of upper-level nursing courses at the university’s Knoxville instructional site. Maryville College continues to maintain a 100 percent acceptance rate to the TWU nursing program.

Students in the program may live on the MC campus while commuting to Knoxville.

Tennessee Wesleyan’s nursing program features a partnership with Covenant Health and the Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and provides students with extensive opportunities for clinical experience in areas such as mental health, acute care, intensive care and more.

“We are thrilled about the ongoing success of the partnership with Tennessee Wesleyan University’s nursing program,” said Dr. Jennifer Oody, assistant professor of exercise science and coordinator of MC’s dual-degree program in health care and nursing. “It offers students the opportunity to engage in a liberal arts education coupled with a clinical-based professional program, which provides critical skill sets for the rapidly changing world of healthcare. Our division is especially proud of this group of young women – they have worked incredibly hard and will be a great addition to the nursing profession. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for each of them.” 

Ditmore to work as pediatric nurse

Ditmore, who is from Lenoir City, Tenn., has accepted a position as a pediatric registered nurse at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, Tenn. She will start in August and will rotate through all of the pediatric units before being matched to a unit at the end of her orientation.

Ditmore said she has always been exposed to – and fascinated by – the medical field. Her father is a podiatrist and would allow her to accompany him to the hospital or watch surgeries (with patient consent). During her senior year of high school, she shadowed a nurse practitioner at a hospital.

“I knew from the very first time of shadowing her, that I wanted to follow the same path and become a nurse practitioner,” Ditmore said. “I want to provide compassionate care and take care of people through what may be the worst day of their life.”

Maryville College prepared her for nursing by providing a foundation for her education, she said. From a First Year Seminar (FYS) course called “Medicine and Making Babies” to a “Modern Medical Practices” history course, she felt prepared for the next step.

“As a liberal arts student, we were exposed to unique opportunities,” Ditmore said. “It was required to take a history class, which is usually not my strong point. I discovered that MC had a history class called ‘Modern Medical Practices.’ Our professor intertwined our interests in healthcare with the essentials of a history class.”

She said the process to transition to TWU’s program was “extremely simple,” and all of her classes transferred easily, without the need for any additional summer courses. The program at TWU started with labs and classroom activities, but she began to transition to a clinical setting as she gained knowledge and skills.

“Each semester provided us with new settings, everything from the ICU to the delivery room to the nursery,” she said. “As our time at TWU came to a close, we concluded with a preceptorship. In the beginning, my preceptor took on more of the patient load, but by the end, once trust was gained, I was able to place nasogastric (NG) tubes, start and hang IV medications, fully assess patients, obtain blood cultures and so much more. As a precepting student, we are essentially taking on the role of the nurse without the stress of having a patient load to ourselves.”

As one of the first graduates of the dual-degree program, she said “it feels like a great accomplishment.”

“In the beginning, becoming a nurse only seemed like a dream,” she said. “Now, it is as if that time flew by. For many of us, obtaining our BSN is one of the most challenging things we’ve accomplished to date. For those of us who are graduating from MC and TWU, we not only obtained a degree in nursing, but one in health care, as well.”

McIntyre started position in hospital cardiac unit

McIntyre has started a position in the Cardiac Specialty Unit at Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville, Tenn.

As a registered nurse working in the cardiac unit, she cares for patients who have had a heart attack, undergone heart surgery or had any heart-related complications.

McIntyre, who is from Powell, Tenn., said the dual-degree program enabled her to have one-on-one time with professors at both institutions and gain knowledge to use in practical situations.

“I was able to receive internships and extracurricular activities that would help prepare me for my professional career,” she said. “Through TWU, I had the opportunity to serve on two different medical mission trips. On these trips, I worked alongside other students and nurses. Through this experience, I was better equipped for the nursing field and what real-life experiences could happen on the floor. I spent multiple hours on different hospital floors for clinicals and preceptorship that allowed me to practice everything I learned in the classroom.”

McIntyre said she wanted to go into nursing because she “always had a heart for people.”

“With nursing, I am able to help others when they need it most,” she said. “I wanted a career that would challenge me but still allow me to make an impact.

“I feel honored to have been able to be one of the first to go through this program,” she added. “I appreciate all the opportunities that MC and TWU provided for me.”

Peterson to work in neurosurgical ICU

Peterson has accepted a position as a registered nurse in the Neurosurgical Intensive Care Unit at TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., where she will work with patients with ischemic strokes, hemorrhagic strokes and brain tumors, as well as provide post-operative care to those who have had brain surgery.

Peterson, who is from Eagan, Minn., said Maryville College prepared her for TWU’s rigorous nursing program.

“I felt better prepared than some of my other classmates who attended different colleges,” she said. “TWU's nursing program is outstanding and is definitely not easy, but it will prepare you incredibly well for the nursing profession.”

She said she wanted to go into nursing because she has “always had an immense passion for helping others.”

“The human body is incredible, and I will never get sick of learning about all of its capabilities and how to heal and help sick patients,” she said. “It is an honor to be part of the first group from MC to participate in the dual-degree program with TWU. It feels good to know that we were able to pave the way and provide feedback to both colleges as to what went well and what could be improved.” 

In addition, Keylon, who is from Soddy Daisy, Tenn., has accepted a position at Children’s Hospital at Erlanger in Chattanooga, Tenn.

For more information about Maryville College’s dual-degree program in health care and nursing, please visit the Maryville College website or call the Admissions Office at 865.981.8092.

Written by Chloe Kennedy, Assistant Director of Communications           

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”