Can strong leaders in the nursing industry impact patient outcomes? Judy Neubrander, dean of the Mennonite College of Nursing (MCN), says yes.

“In nursing, leadership is the key to providing quality patient care,” she said. “A nurse who is passionate about doing the best job he or she can do in providing care to patients and taking leadership roles in nursing or their community is going to make a difference to patients.”

This is the reason that in fall of 2017, MCN launched an annual Nursing Leadership Academy, made possible by a generous donation from William (Bill) ’69 and Nancy (Porick) Yarger ’69.

The objectives of the academy are to prepare senior nursing students to lead and expose them to healthcare leadership and thought. In its inaugural year, 18 students completed the academy outside of class and clinical hours. The experience is for professional development, not class credit.

Neubrander noted that one of the unanticipated outcomes was building students’ self-confidence. Rosalba Trujillo ’18 said, “Participating in the Leadership Academy helped me strengthen my confidence level when speaking in front of others, and helped me gain knowledge on how to be an effective leader and delegator.”

The Yargers, who owned The Alamo II bookstore on campus for 38 years, have supported a variety of Illinois State initiatives across academic areas and athletics. After hearing Neubrander’s vision for the program, they knew this was the next thing they wanted to support.

They have great respect for the dean’s assessment of needs in today’s nursing environment and said they know the academy will have an impact on the skills future nurses need to care for their patients and achieve excellence in their careers.

Mikalya Cooksey ’18 began working at OSF Saint Joseph Medical Center in July. Without the academy, she said she “would not have been prepared emotionally, cognitively, or professionally for the interviewing and hiring process that I just completed for my first nursing job.”