On Jan. 29, APU’s School of Nursing was ranked 8th in an article published by USA Today titled, “10 best U.S colleges to earn a nursing degree for 2015-16.” The publication ranked universities nationwide for their ability to efficiently equip students for postgraduation careers, with APU’s nursing graduates expected to earn a starting salary of $67,000.

In addition to APU, other prestigious universities across the country were also recognized, including New York University and the University of Pennsylvania. Amidst this news, students and professors in the School of Nursing reflected on what this will mean for the program now and in the future.

“I think this ranking will attract highly qualified students that will be the next generation of nursing to provide excellent nursing care to our aging population,” assistant professor Melinda Dicken said.

Dicken said it is important to pay particular attention to the 10,000 individuals per day that turn 65 years old.

“We really have to be educating [students about] how to take care of this more complex population,” she said.

As APU’s nursing program steadily increases in popularity, students identify what makes the program stand out among other colleges. Sophomore nursing major Alyssa Lim shed light on her experience thus far.

“The professors make the students think abstractly,” Lim said. “They ask questions, and if we don’t know it, they push us to search for the answers, which helps us retain the information. They also have so many resources for us to succeed in the program.”

Lim said the professors provide students with real-life scenarios and opportunities to think critically. She said the skills nursing students gain in the classroom helps them be prepared for clinical days.

“The faculty puts an emphasis on caring for the patients holistically and not just physically. They allow us to look at the person as a whole and not just as a sick person in a room.”

Dicken and Lim both highlighted the importance of viewing patients as human beings first and not solely as the illness they have.

“A person is more than just a disease,” Dicken said.

In contrast with other prominent public universities, APU’s nursing program is recognized for its unique spiritual component.

This contributes to the school’s mission, which strives to create compassionate difference makers through strong ethical principles based on Christian values.

“The difference in our program is that it is definitely more God-centered,” sophomore nursing major Daniel Shin said. “We, as students in clinicals, try to replicate God’s love unto the patients we serve.”

Sophomore nursing major Breanne Ruiz said the program places a strong emphasis on caring for patients instead of putting pressure to study for exams and earn grades.

“We look at nursing, not just as a career, but as a passion in life,” Ruiz said.

Since the school has already been on a steady uphill expansion, Dicken is concerned that APU will not be able to accommodate the growth.

“True expansion won’t occur until we have the capacity to deal with those numbers of expansion,” Dicken said.

She said that with this new reputation, students who have never heard of APU may consider a smaller cohort when choosing where to attend.

Since the nursing program is already recognized for its competitive admission, sophomore nursing major Dalia Wilson said she is hopeful for the program’s future.

“Presently, I believe that this means the nursing students must carry themselves well,” Wilson said. “In every hospital I have had the privilege of working in, I have heard the nurses at the hospitals tell us that there is something different about APU nurses. What that difference is, I cannot exactly say, but everyday I am in the program, I begin to notice a want to do well in the workplace and for my patients.”

Wilson said that she hopes APU will be able to expand to other hospitals and bring in more opportunities for their students.

“We may even be able to get newer equipment to practice with,” Wilson said. “The future will always carry many possibilities that are undeterminable, but if integrity is continually engraved into our program course, I believe we can remain a well-known institution.”