|Ninety-six students marked the completion of their studies during the Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing’s recent commencement exercises at the Fairfield University Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
Fifty-six of the students were in the school’s traditional two-year registered nurse diploma program and 40 were in the 15-month accelerated program. Most of the students are from Fairfield and New Haven counties but some are from as far away as Rocky Hill, Torrington and Westbrook.
The commencement address was delivered by Victoria Niederhauser, dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Tennessee.
“Nurses are a critical and essential part of healthcare,” Niederhauser said to the graduates. “We are at the intersection of everything and everyone. Dare to take the adventure, do so with compassion and be a lifelong learner. It’s only by keeping our minds open to new things that we find new solutions.”
Andrea Sclafani of Milford, who was recognized with an award for the highest grade point average in the traditional two-year class, spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates.
“It may feel like a race sometimes but we can never forget that the reason we’re here is to take care of people,” Andrea said. “Few people are at their best when they’re in a hospital, but they are someone’s mother, brother or loved one. Being kind is at the heart of our roles as caregivers.”
The ceremony also included the presentation of special achievement awards and scholarships to outstanding students. Other highlights included a ceremonial lighting of the lamps in honor of nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale and recital of the Nightingale pledge.
Bridgeport Hospital President Bill Jennings, Chief Nursing Officer MaryEllen Kosturko and School of Nursing Director Carol Papp all took part in the event along with several other hospital officials.
Graduates of the school are eligible to take the Connecticut registered nurse licensure exam in order to work in hospital or community settings. Many of this year’s graduates have already been offered nursing positions at Bridgeport Hospital.
On April 21, Bridgeport Hospital signed an agreement with the University of Bridgeport (UB) that calls for the two organizations to work together to advance the school of nursing’s RN diploma program to a four-year bachelor of science degree program at UB. Bridgeport Hospital would remain a clinical partner in the program. The agreement was triggered by a 2010 Institute of Medicine report recommending that at least 80 percent of all nurses in the U.S. hold at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020.