Jane Tang, Ph.D., R.N., never shies away from a challenge. As the division of nursing chair, she oversees the undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, which constitute 21 percent of Immaculata University’s total enrollment. This job as a full-time administrator is heavy with responsibility and includes what some might consider speedbumps, but Tang is loving the ride. “We have lots of challenges, but I see those challenges as opportunities,” Tang says.
After serving as an assistant professor and then M.S.N. program director, Tang was appointed chair of the division of nursing in 2017. Tang’s responsibilities include ensuring the nursing programs meet all requirements and interacting with the State Board of Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Tang notes that some professionals do not enjoy full-time administration because of the extensive negotiation and coordination, but she finds the job fun.
“You see a lot of problems, but you are able to find ways to solve them,” Tang says. “I just need to pray hard every day…so I can continue to enjoy doing this job.”
Her journey to Immaculata could be labeled as divine intervention. As she prayed about future career choices, a colleague attended a nursing seminar in Valley Forge where she learned that a small, Catholic liberal arts university was searching for a new nursing faculty member. Around the same time, Tang’s husband had visited a friend at a small, Catholic liberal arts university. He told Tang she must visit the university, as it was so beautiful he was sure she would love it. As it happened, these two universities were the same: Immaculata University.
Tang’s love of nursing began 7,929 miles away from Immaculata in Taiwan, where she grew up on an army base with her parents and two siblings. She had a deep love for learning, but describes herself as an academic “late bloomer,” not discovering this enthusiasm until high school. Tang attended a vocational nursing high school and graduated first in her class. To get into college, Tang had to take the National Entrance Exam, which is similar to the SAT in the United States. She became the first student from her high school to go onto the National Taipei College of Nursing without any tutoring for the exam.
During the next chapter of her life in college, Tang realized she wanted to be involved in nursing education. The catalyst was an interaction with a college professor, although it may be different from the stories usually told about professors inspiring future teachers. One of her professors tore apart her homework, calling it garbage. When telling this story, Tang notes that it is important to understand the cultural differences in education between Taiwan and the United States. In the United States, teachers praise students for a job well done in order to help them grow, while in Taiwan students are often criticized as a form of motivation. Many students might have been discouraged by this incident, but not Tang.
“I actually thank her when I look back,” Tang says, “because that helped me realize that I needed to go to the United States to get the most advanced education, so that I could pass my love and passion for nursing to students…I needed to be trained/ educated not just academically, but my attitude, my personality, my character also needed to be trained, and I believed by studying abroad, that would prepare me to become a better person.”
In 1993, Tang traveled to Fremont, Neb. to study at Midland Lutheran College (now Midland University). Tang laughed when asked why she chose to attend school there. She said a friend knew of her intentions to study in the United States and gave her a brochure of faith-based schools. Aside from meeting admissions criteria, Tang noticed that Midland Lutheran College had a Chinese restaurant and the owner was from Taiwan. She introduced herself to the gentleman and they became friends. The owner was a reminder of home and the restaurant was a deciding factor in choosing to attend. Tang learned the importance of support, as her family was unable to help her, and she was homesick. Tang said the restaurant brought her a lot of comfort, and then mentions with a laugh that the six snowy months out of the year did not.
Tang received her B.S.N. from Midland Lutheran College, and then received her M.S.N. in nursing education and Ph.D. in nursing administration from the University of Iowa.
Tang is now living her dream of working in nursing education. Her kindness and positivity serve her well in this position. She can be seen walking the hallways or stopping by the dining hall, always greeting everyone with a smile. When asked what she would like to see for the nursing division, Tang said, “Let’s look at the opportunities that are ahead of us…Once we have a positive attitude, only the sky will be our limit.”
This past fall, the nursing hallway in the terrace level of Loyola Hall was decorated with blue and white streamers, balloons, and colorful posters that read “96.67%.” This number represents the most recent first-time NCLEX pass rate for IU’s students. The NCLEX exam is the final stop for undergraduate nursing students before becoming registered nurses. This exam is rigorous and challenging. The average NCLEX pass rate for the state of Pennsylvania is 91.10 percent and the national average pass rate is 86.94 percent, placing Immaculata well above average. The colorful, celebratory display is a visual representation of the joy Tang prayed would fill her job, and the pass rate a representation of a challenge turned into an opportunity.