Elon nursing improves interactive environment for second year

Sophomore Maddie Xerras said she fell in love with the medical field at a young age when she walked into his office with her father, who is a doctor. Nursing was perfect for Xerras because after just four years as a student, she was able to become a registered nurse rather than go to medical school after college. She chose Elon because she liked the campus, the size of the school, and was excited about the new nursing program.

“This year feels a lot more organized than last year,” Xerras said. “We have great resources and people that we can turn to anytime we’re struggling with something.”

First Division Manager of the Nursing Department, Tiffany Morris, said the main difference between the second and first years of the program was the connection and relationship they nurtured within the program.

“I think there’s a broader acceptance of nursing as being on campus,” Morris said. “We’ve built more relationships with our campus partners and learned lessons, including how to help students with planning, registration and things like that.”

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According to Morris, there has been an increase in faculty and students in the department that year. The Class of 2026 has up to 47 students, compared to 35 from the Class of 2025 last year. The maximum number of students that the Elon Nursing Department can accommodate for each grade level is 56.

The nurturing program at Elon is very intense, as Morris explains. Students pursuing their four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing must complete all of Elon’s core requirements, nursing prerequisites, and 65-credit-hour nursing curriculum — including 17 nursing courses and 540 total clinical hours.

“I feel like it’s definitely overwhelming in terms of teaching and keeping up with everything, but that’s what nursing school is,” Xerras said. “Whenever I’m feeling stressed, I try to remind myself that it was all worth it and within the next three years I will be pursuing my nursing degree.”

According to Morris, all nursing students receive hands-on learning experiences on how to give bed baths, take vital signs, give injections, start IVs, and more.

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Morris also said she is hopeful that these students’ stress levels will decrease over the next few weeks.

“I think the first two weeks were very intense for them because they hadn’t completed their first clinic,” Morris said. “But when we spoke to them recently, there were more smiles.”

Xerras said she feels supported by her peers and educators, which also helps relieve her stress. The nursing students have created their own community, a place where they can rely on each other.

“They did a great job keeping the team together and making sure everyone knew everyone in the program, both staff and students,” said Xerras. “Students set up study groups and sessions in the library.”

For example, Morris said students have created an “electronic community,” meaning they use social media and text to keep in touch with one another.

“When we go to the clinic, we take photos and upload them for the group to see,” Morris said. “I think it helps them feel more connected.”

The nursing department also hosts social meetings and dinners where professors can connect with students.

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Morris explained the importance of creating an interactive and fun environment for the nursing school and its students. To that end, Morris created the Training Day – an eight-hour immersive experience designed to provide students with hands-on opportunities from active professionals in the field.

“We called the day Training Day and everyone wore our caboose hats,” Morris said. “We had excellent clinical faculty — from outside our faculty — which gave the students a sense of security because they were working with current nurses.”

Morris said the nursing program is also working on a student affairs committee to offer mentoring opportunities between grade levels. She hopes this will help the program continue to grow in the future.

Overall, Morris said she is proud of the program’s progress to date.

“These students just exceed my expectations every day,” Morris said. “They are highly intelligent, very compassionate and willing to do whatever they have to do to pass this program.”

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