Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

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Loyola RN-to-BSN Students Visit Lourdes

In 1858, the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Soubirous, a young peasant girl in Lourdes, France. The vision encouraged her to drink of the fountain. With no fountain in sight, the young girl dug at a spot designated by the apparition, and a spring began to flow.

This spring remains today and is believed to possess remarkable healing powers. As a result, millions of people make the pilgrimage to Lourdes every year to experience the therapeutic effect of the water. Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing students Juanita Camargo and Amy Miller were among them in May. They assisted the sick into the healing waters.

“We will be meeting these people for the first time when they may not be at their best,” Miller said in a pre-trip interview. “This experience will be invaluable in making us more well-rounded nurses and in preparing us for future interactions with patients.”

Camargo and Miller are part of Loyola’s RN-to-BSN online program and a growing trend of nursing professionals who are pursuing higher degree programs in response to the Institute of Medicine’s call to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses to 80 percent by 2020.

Camargo had always wanted to return to school to earn her bachelor’s degree in nursing. But with a job as a bedside nurse in a busy acute rehabilitation unit, this left little time for school.

Miller also hoped to complete her bachelor’s degree. However, her full-time career with a medical equipment company, and her distance from a good nursing school where she lives in rural Wisconsin, left few options for her to pursue higher education.

Both Camargo and Miller became familiar with Loyola’s program, which enables students to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree online in a minimum of three semesters or one calendar year. This program is intended for USA-licensed, professional nurses with an associate degree or a hospital nursing program diploma who want to further their education without draining their resources or putting work on hold. Loyola’s program has the added benefit of service-immersion programs such as the one to Lourdes. 

“My schedule would have made it difficult for me to earn my degree through a traditional BSN program,” Camargo said. “Loyola’s RN-to-BSN program gives me flexibility to complete my school assignments when I am not working and it exposes me to opportunities such as the Lourdes trip. Having this program will allow me to earn my degree and give me an edge when I apply for jobs.”

Camargo graduated in May with plans to pursue critical care nursing. Miller will graduate in December 2013 and hopes to earn her Master of Science in Nursing while working toward a hospital management position.

See photos of Loyola travelers at Lourdes.