By Dan Silvia
Dr. Kimberley Meisinger has put down some roots in her almost six years at Bellevue University. She serves as Director for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Bachelor of Science in Public Health Education and the Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences. A longtime Bellevue resident, she has even deeper roots in the community.
The program recently achieved a significant milestone when it earned accreditation through the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The validation is important on several levels, Meisinger said.
“While I always thought that the program was tremendous even before accreditation, this is recognition from outside experts saying, ‘We validate that everything that you’ve done meets the standard that we’ve outlined’,” Meisinger said. “As students graduate, they can go out into the workplace and those people who are hiring them are going to say,’ they’re CCNE accredited.’ It ensures the employer that a graduate has the kind of skills they need and they can hire them knowing that they are coming from a program that has a quality education. It’s important for the program, but equally is important for the students.”
Meisinger is working on attaining some personal milestones herself. She has been nominated for a position on the board for the American Nursing Association. She will be travelling to Washington D.C. to present, before the final vote for the board positions. Initially, Meisinger wasn’t sure she would apply, but could not pass up the opportunity to be an influencer.
“I’m always encouraging my students to become part of a professional organization and change how leadership looks in nursing,” Meisinger said. “I felt like if I’m going to tell my students to do it, then I should probably step up and do it myself.”
Meisinger came to Bellevue University while finishing up her dissertation for her Doctor of Nursing Practice and Clinical System Administration at Creighton University. A graduate of Bellevue West High School, Meisinger began her academic career earning her bachelor’s degree in Nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She followed that up with a Master of Science in Nursing Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University. She earned a second master’s degree in Alternative Dispute Resolution from the Creighton University School of Law.
She began her Bellevue University career working with Dr. Mike Freel in the Master of Healthcare Administration program. An opportunity to lead the BSN program opened up about a year and a half later. Getting the program into shape to earn the CCNE accreditation has a large part of her job since that time.
“It’s been an immense amount of work, probably more work than I’ve ever done on one specific project,” Meisinger said. “I’m excited for the students because they wanted this for such a long time — to hear the excitement on the phone when I called them or to see the excitement when I saw them at graduation. They were jumping up and down, they were hugging, they were just thrilled. That probably was more satisfying than anything.”
Going forward, establishing a National Honor Society for nursing at the University is a high priority for Meisinger. The honor would add the potential for an additional credential that might help a resume stand out. Additionally, Meisinger is laying the groundwork for a Master of Science in Nursing program.
“That’s the next academic step that we want to make. It will allow our BSN students to have another place to come back to,” Meisinger said. “A doctorate in nursing is always on the back of my brain. We have a very small amount of nurse educators available across the country and we are requiring those educators to have a doctorate.”
The Bellevue University Bachelor of Science program is devoted to creating nurse leaders.
“Everything is kind of geared toward that. Our content is very leadership focused,” Meisinger said. “One thing that I like about our program is the students get to choose their practicum experience. We meet them where they’re at, so that they can create the experience they need to have. We’ll just guide them down the path. It makes it more personal for the students, but is also beneficial for the organizations because at the very end, they have a project or an outcome that the can actually do something with.”
When Meisinger isn’t helping the BSN program sprout, she is tending to those roots that help keep her grounded and growing herself.
Her oldest son, Kanin, will be attending Bellevue University this fall as a business major, while daughter Sierra will be a senior at Bellevue East High School. The youngest is Tess, who is a sophomore and is home schooled. Meisinger has been married to husband, Deric, for 16 years. Family have been her biggest supporters during her academic and career endeavors.
Meisinger enjoys spending time with her kids and reading. She mentors students in the Bellevue East Health Occupations Student Association. She has also recently taken up kayaking.
“I’m not good at it, but definitely trying,” she said.
With Meisinger’s drive you can rest assured that she will be an expert kayaker soon enough.