University Dedicates Nursing Simulation Suite in High-Tech Lab Facility

Linda Duncan, Richard Becker, Mary Surridge
Richard Becker, center, provided a gift to the University's Nursing Simulation Lab facility in memory of his wife, Janice, who was a nurse. With Becker are, left, School of Nursing Dean Linda Duncan and, right, Vice President for Development Alumni Relations Mary Surridge.

Suite named for Janice Becker, psychiatric nurse and Covenant Church member

CHICAGO (November 15, 2012) — With family, friends, invited guests, and the University board of trustees in attendance October 26, North Park University dedicated the Janice I. Becker Nursing Simulation Suite in its state-of-the-art Nursing Simulation Lab Facility. The suite honors Becker, a longtime member of the Evangelical Covenant Church (ECC), and a psychiatric nurse in Massachusetts for nearly 40 years before her death from cancer in 2009.

After Janice's death, her husband, Richard, moved to Covenant Village of Florida, Plantation, where he learned about the University, and in particular, its simulation lab facility. He eventually visited the lab, and was invited to honor his wife's career and dedication to the Covenant Church by naming a lab suite for her. North Park is affiliated with the ECC.

"What a wonderful day this is," said Richard. "Janice was my sweetheart, the love of my life, and she was a very special person to anyone who worked with her or called her their friend." In his dedication remarks, Richard described their life of devotion to each other that began when they met in 1960 while singing in a choir at a church conference in New Hampshire. Richard, who was in the U.S. Air Force and stationed in Maine, remained in touch with Janice, and traveled long distances to the Boston area to see her.

After they were married, Janice was hired in 1967 as part of original staff of the newly formed psychiatric unit of Emerson Hospital, Concord, Mass., where she worked until her retirement in 2003. Describing her as a "tough nurse," Richard said, "Jan truly loved her work at the hospital and never considered it a job. She lovingly cared for her patients, and many of them loved her right back." In 1997, Janice Becker was named Massachusetts LPN of the Year, "the crowning moment" of her career, Richard said.

Janice was an avid reader and photographer. She was adept at needlepoint, and knitted caps for seafarers. She also had a strong faith in God, enjoyed reading Bible stories, and with her soprano voice, sang in their church choir in Massachusetts with Richard. "Dear to Jan's heart was the music of the church, especially songs that embraced her Swedish heritage. Music was in Jan's blood," he said. They traveled together with friends, and continued to do so after Janice was diagnosed with cancer. The Beckers were married 47 years.

"Janice was a very special lady, and this is a very special occasion," Richard Becker told the group at the dedication. "I believe she is looking down on us right now and smiling her approval."

Mary Surridge, University vice president for development and alumni relations, presented Richard with a book of remembrances about Janice. Copies of the messages will remain in the lab suite, she said.

In his comments, Dr. David L. Parkyn, North Park University president, said the suite will have a positive effect on the University's nursing program in many ways. For example, he observed that people teach and learn best in well-equipped spaces. "Nursing education at North Park is rooted deeply in its students and faculty, but also takes on a character of its own because of the space provided," he said. Parkyn thanked Richard for on behalf of those who will be cared for by nurses trained through the facilities of the Janice Becker suite. "Her lifetime of care for people out of her dedication to this profession will be continued for so many years to come, and in the lives of so many people," Parkyn added.

The simulation lab has enabled faculty to train students to provide quality care to patients, said Dr. Linda Duncan, dean of the North Park University School of Nursing and Gretchen Carlson Memorial Endowed Chair in Nursing."This has made a tremendous difference in our students, in our graduate students, and in the welfare of our patients," she said.

Opened in September 2011, the high-tech Nursing Simulation Lab Facility enables students in nursing and other disciplines to practice critical skills in a simulated, safe, learning environment. Simulations are recorded, and students and faculty routinely review their work. The lab has also attracted attention from others in the health care community. For example, about a dozen health care building professionals people toured the lab last month while attending a national symposium in Chicago.

Use @npunews to follow North Park University News on Twitter. For further information or resources, contact John Brooks, Director of Media Relations and News, via email or at (773) 244-5522. Learn more about North Park University.

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