Krista Shaw, Contributing Writer
Setting a new precedent for University of Dallas students interested in nursing careers, Samantha Mulcahy, Theresa Wohldmann and Michelle Keshishian form the first class of the UD/Texas Woman’s University Dual Degree Nursing Program. After three years at UD and two years at TWU, these students will graduate with both a B.A./Biology and a B.S.N./Nursing degree.
By gaining acceptance to TWU, Mulcahy, Wohldmann and Keshishian are making history for UD.
“I am very proud of our first students to apply to the program—they have blazed a sometimes-difficult trail for other students to follow, and will be there to mentor our next group of applicants as they move ahead toward their application to TWU,” said Dr. Marcy Brown Marsden, biology chair and coordinator of the joint nursing program. “I cannot think of a better group of students to be our first in TWU’s program.”
Before this program’s inception, UD students needed to take up to two years of post-baccalaureate nursing classes before testing to become registered nurses. Now, students declare their intention to participate in the dual-degree program during their sophomore year and apply to TWU during their junior year. After the successful completion of three years of Core courses and prerequisite science courses, UD students are considered honors students by TWU, which helps their applications.
“The application was rushed this year and required a lot of communication between UD and TWU because we were the first to apply,” Keshishian said. “We learned as we went. Dr. Brown was really helpful throughout this whole process and helped us smooth through all the small glitches we encountered.”
Once accepted to TWU, students complete upper-level biology courses and study research and management. They also have the opportunity to work in diverse branches of medicine—such as mental health, community health and children’s health—in clinics and hospitals across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The newly accepted students look forward to their future studies.
“I am really excited for the next two years at TWU, and to get the opportunity to apply what I have learned in my science classes at UD in a clinical setting. When I toured TWU, they took us through the simulation lab, which has high-tech dummies that mimic medical problems you would encounter on the job. I am excited to have labs there and learn how to respond to common scenarios before beginning clinicals,” Keshishian said.
This streamlined program is a great improvement for students interested in nursing, as they earn two degrees in only five years. They have the added advantage of the UD Core and a possible semester abroad.
“Students in the three/two program are able to go to Rome, and are able to participate in the social, intellectual and spiritual life at UD. We think that our students are gaining a broad and deep academic experience before going on to the nursing-specific coursework, and this will help them when they go on to become practicing nurses,” Brown said.
The 21 UD students currently enrolled in the joint nursing program are excited at their new prospects.
“I am so excited to be in the nursing program!” sophomore Mary Jane Parker said. “I was going to have to leave UD, but now I get to spend three years here and still earn the degree I want.”
The program will further diversify UD’s academic curriculum and is expected to increase UD’s appeal to prospective students.
“Nursing is one of the top-requested programs among students interested in the health field, and before we never had the opportunity to bring students interested in nursing to campus quite like this,” Brown said.