Wanda Kay Burns enjoys teaching at North Park’s School of Nursing for many reasons, including its positive reputation in the community and ability to embrace change to meet the needs of an increasingly complex and competitive health care system.
“Nurses need to be competent in using technical skills, information retrieval, and application to consumer healthcare problems,” she said. “They need to understand the fiscal pressures thrust upon them and assess nursing outcomes in light of diminishing dollars. They need to have leadership and management skills, such as communication and collaboration; this will enable them to function among other disciplines in maintaining or restoring holistic health.”
North Park prepares its nursing students to thrive in this changing health care environment, she says, and excels at developing and emphasizing cultural competence in all nursing courses. The school’s urban location, in particular, provides many opportunities for nursing students to gain exposure to different cultures.
For example, in the Community Health for RNs class, students are encouraged to assess their own understanding of other ethnicities and cultures, and then seek mentors to expand that understanding. This course also directly engages nursing students with different Chicago communities as they complete a holistic assessment of the health of residents who live in a specific community and then follow up with a project that would benefit those residents.
“Students are instructed to value cultural distinctives regarding attitudes toward pain, childbirth, alternative and complementary medical approaches, family roles, death and grieving, and more,” she said.
While Wanda feels her own faith played a strong part in leading her to teach at North Park, she values the school’s inclusion of students from all backgrounds. “I believe God is interested in creating opportunities for us to serve Him and make a difference in the lives of others,” she said. “I embrace the welcome given to students at North Park, regardless of their religious beliefs.”
Wanda is a member of the Association of Community Health Nurse Educators (ACHNE), and is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as an APN/PHCH. She was an active participant in the development of the Illinois Public Health Nursing Toolbox, a resource for nurses who work in a public health setting.