Nurses—Making a Difference in Global Health

Nurse Stories:  Achieve universal primary education

Latino high school students prepare for nursing careers

Dr. Michael Dauzvardis with campers in the Stritch School of Medicine anatomy laboratory.

Guided by the vision of Dean Sheila Haas, the Berwyn/Cicero Registered Nurse Initiative began in 2000 with funding from the MacNeal Health Foundation.“

We recognized the need to begin working with students early in their high school experience,” reported Gloria Jacobson, project director and associate professor at the School of Nursing. “As a result, in 2002 we began Experiencias en Salud, a health careers summer day camp for students who would ultimately be eligible for the foundation scholarship. Nearly 70 students have participated in this informative, highly interactive event that allows students first-hand experience in premier health care and educational settings.”

Recruiting students who had never imagined attending college presented an assortment of challenges. Many students were interested but did not have the college preparatory coursework needed for admission to the School of Nursing. Several parents objected to their children attending a school located 45 minutes from home. Some youths and parents did not see the need for further education.

Because college-admission tests are challenging for many Latino students, a structured class was arranged through a national test preparation company. Nearly all students who show commitment to the course have significantly raised their scores.

Marisol Solís, assistant project director, helps students receive the support they need to be successful and also understand their own responsibility in the learning process. Many students are stunned by the newfound freedom that college life offers and by the demanding and rigorous academic expectations. Mandatory study times and locations are employed until students demonstrate a 3.0 cumulative grade point average. All students must participate in weekly tutoring provided for selected science courses. Grade report requests are sent about every three weeks to each student’s faculty for all courses in which they are enrolled.

“At graduation, it is hard to know who is more elated—the graduates, their families or the project staff,” Jacobson reported. “We are honored to be a part of this important work.”

RNL - Reflections on Nursing Leadership - Published 9/2/2005 , Vol. 31 No. 3