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ISU signs partnership with College of Lake County.

ISU signs partnership with College of Lake County.

Four ways MCN is reshaping health in McLean County, the state of Illinois, and beyond

Dean Neubrander reflects

Illinois State University’s Mennonite College of Nursing was founded exactly 100 years ago by a group of farmers who saw a need. They looked at the state of health care in our community and said, “We can do better.” Then, they mortgaged their farms together and built a nursing school. Over the course of the last 100 years, again and again this college has seen a need and responded—quietly and without fanfare, but with great impact. That is the legacy of this college.

It is clear to almost anyone that health care is changing. As a society, we stand at the edge of a precipice. In the vast valley below us is:

  • A wave of people aging into the need for geriatric services.
  • A shortage of primary care providers—both physicians and nurses.
  • A nationwide nursing shortage and a matching nation-wide nursing faculty shortage.
  • Technology that is reshaping health care almost daily.
  • Ever-changing regulations.
  • And the list goes on.

Sometimes, I feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all—by the complexity of the challenges we face, and the incredible amount of work it is going to take to move the needle. Then, I pause to reflect. I find solace in the belief that together, we can find the solutions to these issues and leave a better, brighter, healthier world for our children and grandchildren.

Why do I believe that? Because in so many ways, MCN is already doing it. Below are four ways that MCN is reshaping health in McLean County, the state of Illinois, and beyond.

1: America’s Promise: MCN’s answer to America’s public health crisis

Under America’s Promise, students serve clinical hours with a school nurse in area public schools. They provide care in rural and urban settings, learning about public health and how to navigate challenges faced by children and families with chronic health issues. Each year, hundreds of MCN students work hands-on with families in our community, role-modeling healthy practices, holding health interventions, advocating for children, and laying the foundation for a healthier future.

2: CAUSE: MCN’s answer to America’s primary care shortage

In partnership with the McLean County Health Department, the Community Health Care Clinic and Chestnut Family Health Center, MCN’s CAUSE initiative focuses on increasing the number of nurses working in the primary care setting, while emphasizing prevention in order to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. Together with our partners, CAUSE strives to coordinate patient care and the management of chronic illness, mental health, substance abuse and a variety of other challenges faced by vulnerable populations with stereotypically limited access to health care.

3: Academic Progression: MCN’s answer to Illinois’ nursing shortage

At MCN, we fiercely believe that working RNs must have a way to advance their education, and that part of the answer to Illinois’ nursing shortage is via collaboration between 4-year institutions and community colleges. To facilitate this, to-date MCN has initiated Academic Progression partnerships with 14 community colleges statewide that provide seamless paths from RN to the Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing—and then upward.

4: ANEW: MCN’s answer to America’s rural health care access crisis

As we discussed in this article detailing one of MCN’s FNP students, many Americans in rural Illinois face severe access to health care challenges. MCN’s ANEW initiative prepares primary care advanced practice nurses to provide care to vulnerable populations in rural and underserved settings. The initiative collaborates with local rural community organizations to enhance clinical experiences and provides traineeship funds to help defray tuition and school-related expenses for students. Looking into the future, there will be an increased focus on mental health, telehealth, and behavioral health—specifically here in McLean County.

In future months, I will further break down these initiatives, as well as shed light on other fun and innovative ways that MCN is working diligently and persistently an impact. Stay tuned!


Judy Neubrander

Dean, Mennonite College of Nursing

Judy Neubrander, Dean, Mennonite College of Nursing at Illinois State UniversityAbout this column

In today’s fast-paced environment, it is often easy to get so deep in the “doing” of something that we forget to take a moment to pause, step back, and reflect on what we have accomplished. Going forward, each month this column will reflect on the great work and progress this College is making, not only promoting health but also in shaping the future of health care. Stay tuned!

Judy Neubrander

Dean, Mennonite College of Nursing

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