The Nursing Department received an injection of new blood for the start of the Fall 2020 semester.

A total of nine new faculty members have been added to the program, says Dr. Lisa Beals, interim department chair.

New to the program are Dr. Jo Ellen Branstetter-Hall, assistant professor of nursing; Wendy Chrisenbery, clinical instructor; Kathleen Cowley, clinical instructor; Memory Curry, assistant professor; Cheryl Ekenes, clinical instructor; Chris Floyd, clinical instructor; Kimberly Herchenroeder, clinical instructor; Sunny Lawrence, professor of nursing; and Heather Winesburg, nursing advisor.

“We’re also getting ready to start a major curriculum revision,” says Beals. “The program hasn’t had a revision for several years. We’re working with a curriculum expert out of Oregon who is going to help us totally revamp the curriculum for our students. It will be a major overhaul that includes our mission, framework, courses and how we deliver them.”

Skilled nurses are in high demand all over the country, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Probably now more than ever, the public is acutely aware of how important we are to health care,” Beals says. “”I would say nurses are probably the backbone of patient care, certainly in hospital settings but also in community settings.”

There are currently more than 110 students in Missouri Southern’s nursing program. Mercy and Freeman hospitals in Joplin, as well as several other local and regional facilities, are still able to provide students with clinical experience they need.

“The great thing about Southern is we also have a wonderful simulation center which serves as an augment to the clinical experience,” Beals says. “Now more than ever, technology is being used to provide education through virtual simulations. It’s a great addition to our program.”