Above and Beyond at Catawba College

Above and Beyond at Catawba College

Hi all! Your resident Health Connector here back with more information about great health-related opportunities in Rowan County. Now, you might think that I would do a blog about healthy eating, stress management, and staying physically active since we are all deep in the midst of the holiday season – but I’m going to save those words of wisdom for a fresh start in the New Year! I do hope that everyone has some time to recharge, refocus, and to think about how they would like to get involved in the community in 2020. Rowan County has tons to offer for families, individuals ­– young and old – and all of us in between. I hope to see you out and about at events in the New Year!

Catawba College Nursing Program

I hope this month’s blog inspires you as the decade winds down. I have the privilege of sharing one of the not-so-hidden gems in Rowan County – the Catawba College Nursing Program! If you’re reading from outside of Rowan County, Catawba College is a private liberal arts college founded in 1851 located in downtown Salisbury. Both of my grandmothers attended Catawba College – one for Journalism and one for Physical Education – so my support of the blue & white runs deep!


The Assistant Professor of Nursing, Dr. Alison Atwater, DNP, RN, lecturing to her fellow students.


I’ve had a number of friends go through their rigorous programs, many of whom have returned back to Rowan County to the benefit of the community.  I am passionate about local education, and, in my position with Healthy Rowan, I have the opportunity to serve on the Nursing Advisory board. This connection allows me to work with Junior and Senior Nursing students in connecting them to various community health opportunities, like our Adventure Rowan program. You could not ask for a better group of individuals who are committed to learning how to help their community in one of the most challenging (and growing) fields in medicine.

How Catawba Preps Their Nurses

The Catawba College Department of Nursing prepares nursing professionals to meet the growing needs of diverse populations in Salisbury and beyond. Nursing is one of the fastest growing, and most desirable, fields in North Carolina and around the U.S. In Rowan County, nurses serve throughout the community at Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, the W. G. Hefner VA Medical Center, Rowan-Salisbury School System, Rowan County Health Department, Trinity Oaks, Cabarrus-Rowan Community Health Centers, and numerous hospice and homecare agencies. Catawba College works closely with agencies here and in neighboring cities to understand the need and meet the demand of providing well-trained and qualified nurses.

At Catawba, nursing students work through a curriculum that is based on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Baccalaureate essentials and are supported by the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) qualities. Each class that students take is designed to help students achieve learning outcomes ultimately related to passing the required NCLEX-RN or nursing exam. If you are interested on learning more, the department has an informative website found here: https://catawba.edu/academics/programs/undergraduate/nursing/.


Dr. Alison Atwater giving a student a hands on experience.


Moreover, I am impressed with the level of support nursing students receive from this program. Not only do they have access to state-of-the-art simulation labs, some of the brightest faculty, and best connections to practical experience, nursing students are also built up to be well-rounded professionals.

A Catawba Mentor – Sandra Yamane

I am lucky enough to be able to share a portion of the speech from the most recent Catawba College White Coat Ceremony, which is a rite of passage for nursing students and serves as a way to welcome students into the field. Sandra Yamane, MSN, MS, RN, one of the professors in the program, shared moving words during this ceremony – inspiring future nurses to don their White Coats with pride and commitment towards health and towards improving the lives of all.

“This is where you come in. As you don these jackets, you begin your journey to becoming a leader and a professional. As part of your social contract with the people you will serve, you are becoming the role model, you are becoming the voice and becoming the advocate for those who are not able or do not know how to speak for themselves. You are bound to a code of ethics for practice and for life. The nursing ethical standards that you are learning about not only define what we believe, but offer the blueprint for the decisions that we make and the actions that we take.

Provision 1 of the Nursing Code of Ethics states, ‘The nurse practices with compassion and respect for the inherent dignity, worth, and unique attributes of every person.’

The American Nurses Association’s Position Statement on our role in ethics and human rights, states we not only believe in human rights, but MANDATES that we actively protect and promote individual worth, dignity, and human rights without bias or prejudice. There is no room in our practice as a nurse for them and us, red and blue, I am right, and you are wrong. [… ]


Sandra Yamane giving her speech during Catawba College’s White Coat Ceremony. 


The title of this speech is, ‘With malice toward none; with charity for all;’ Words etched on the walls of the Lincoln memorial. Words spoken by a man who would soon give his life for his beliefs and ideals. The entire phrase goes, ‘With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan – to all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.’ President Lincoln knew the only way we would succeed was to stop seeing the other side as the enemy. The nurses of Ward 5B knew the only way to break the stigma and homophobia of the AIDS epidemic was to be the first to show compassion and caring for those who society had cast aside. […]

As you begin your journey to becoming a nurse I ask you to remember the words and actions of President Lincoln, Martin Luther King, the Ward 5B nurses, and the ideals of Socrates. I also want you to remember, words matter, what YOU do matters. One of the founding nurses of Ward 5B said, ‘People call us heroes, but we were just people doing what we could do. Someone once said to me, ‘Well, heroes are just people.’ All of us in our own way have a particular gift, and can make a difference doing what we can do…I would like people to know that they can make a difference without making a grand difference. That’s how we start to change a culture and the world.”

~ Sandra Yamane, Catawba College White Coat Ceremony. September 27, 2019. “With Malice toward None and Charity for All.”


Catawba Nursing Students smiling after being granted their white coats.


As you reflect on the past year and look to the year ahead, I hope we can all take a little something from the White Coat Ceremony for ourselves and share joy in the investment Catawba College is making in nurses – to better Rowan County and to better our community as a whole. 

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About The Author

Alyssa Smith

I am a Rowan County resident and currently serve as the Executive Director of the community coalition, Healthy Rowan. Healthy Rowan seeks to work across organizations to advocate, collaborate, and educate towards a healthier Rowan County. I hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from UNC – Chapel Hill and a Masters of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education and Behavior from University of South Carolina. I worked as a Nutrition Researcher at the Institute for Families in Society in South Carolina and as a Grant Writer for Cabarrus Health Alliance. I am not quite 5’ tall – but have the energy to make up for it! I am a swing dancer and have danced across the country and at international events. I have a beautiful Treeing Walker Coonhound named Classie. I love Rowan County and am excited to share all about health!