The Marian University Nursing Department has grown over the past half-century into a top Wisconsin nursing school. Led by experienced nurses who continue to work in the field and faculty with diverse backgrounds and experiences, the Nursing Department continues to evolve and strengthen. Marian University nursing students benefit from a modern facility, faculty that focuses on practical applications of theory, and a curriculum specifically designed to prepare nurses for work in the 21st-century healthcare environment.

The focus of the department is to produce graduates from a Wisconsin nursing school who are ready to take on the challenges of their profession from Day 1. Marian University offers a variety of nursing programs for working professionals who aspire to reach the next level in their careers. These programs include a traditional four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) with a Family Nurse Practitioner track, and a fully online RN to BSN program.

The school delivers the traditional, pre-licensure BSN programs using a concept-based curriculum that is designed to prepare graduates for the realities of working as a modern nurse. It’s an approach that “encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and the ability to transfer knowledge to a variety of situations,” according to an article in the Journal of Nursing Education.

History of the Marian University Nursing Department

The Marian University Nursing Department’s path to attain status as a top Wisconsin nursing school started more than 50 years ago. The school has gradually grown over the years, with some of the biggest changes coming in just the last decade.

The following represent some of the most important years in the evolution of the Nursing Department at Marian University.

  • 1964. Marian University’s original focus on teacher training expanded in 1964 when the university initiated a baccalaureate degree program in nursing and absorbed the St. Agnes School of Nursing a few years later.
  • 1980. The RN to BSN program began.
  • 2002. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program admitted its first students with a Nurse Educator track and then an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner track.
  • 2013. Marian University begins using concept-based education in traditional BSN programs.
  • 2017. The Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner track transitioned into a Family Nurse Practitioner track. The university also restructured the School of Nursing and Health Professions under the College of the Professions. Nursing began its own department and moved to the Center for Health Professions on Main Street.

Students Benefit from Experienced Nursing Department Leaders and Faculty

The Marian University Nursing Department is led by Kimberly Udlis, Ph.D. FNP-BC, FAANP.  Dr. Udlis is a nationally recognized leader in nursing education, practice, and policy. She keeps her connection between academics and practice by maintaining her practice one day a week as a nurse practitioner.

Katie Hughes, DNP, RN, CNE serves as the Undergraduate Program Director. She is a fellow of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Leadership in Academic Nursing program.  Students also have the benefit of a dedicated Nursing Learning Specialist in the nursing department who is located at the Marian University Center for Health Professions in downtown Fond du Lac.

Many of Marian’s faculty are alumni of the bachelor’s or master’s degree program. They bring a broad range of experience to the classroom from the United States Navy, healthcare administration, leadership, medical/surgical, home health, infusion therapy, and nutrition. Marian University alumni who are now Nursing Department professors include Darlene Adelmeyer, Tammy Chapin, Rachel Loduha, Karen Roberts, Kari Steinbeck, Breanna Sutfin, and Melissa Zar.

This gives students the benefit of learning from content experts. Many faculty members at Marian University are certified nurse educators or have certifications in their areas of expertise.  All faculty members teach in the classroom and in the clinical setting, allowing them to link theories taught in class to actual clinical practice

Students get more than 600 hours of clinical experience in long term care, surgical, medical, critical care, mental health, population health, pediatrics, and women’s health. Conducted in our state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation and Resource Center, students undergo simulated clinical experiences that place them in high risk, low-frequency scenarios that allows them to discuss different situations in an environment where students can safely learn competencies and skills.

“Marian’s nursing program really allowed me to get hands-on experience
and the faculty did an amazing job of preparing me to enter the nursing
profession,” said Adrienne Fischer, a 2019 graduate now employed as
a Registered Nurse at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee. “More than
that, though, my time in the program was fun and I really appreciated how
supportive and helpful everyone was from start to finish.”

New Building for Nursing Department

Since 2017, the Nursing Department has been located blocks off-campus in downtown Fond du Lac at the Center for Health Professions. All nursing faculty and administration are located there so students have everything they need in one building. That includes state of the art classrooms, skills labs, a health assessment lab, and simulation rooms. Students have the benefit of interacting with peers outside of their level because all nursing students from sophomores through seniors are in the same building.

A Concept-Based Curriculum

Starting in 2013, Marian University started delivering its traditional pre-licensure BSN programs using a concept-based curriculum that supported graduates in better meeting the demands of today’s healthcare industry.

A concept-based curriculum is different from traditional nursing curricula that historically taught content in silos where students would learn certain body systems in certain courses only. In a concept-based curriculum, students are taught at the conceptual level to think about body processes and how they apply to various states of health and illness.

A concept-based curriculum promotes a higher level of understanding and the ability to critically analyze patient situations. Those are critical skills in today’s healthcare environment.

To meet the demand of modern healthcare facilities, BSN graduates must provide safe and competent patient care and have a foundational understanding of evidence-based practice, leadership, and the healthcare system. Marian University’s courses in Evidence-Based Nursing and Leadership in Healthcare Systems allow students to develop these skills, preparing them for success as leaders in the profession.