By Laura Byerley
After school let out in May, Kanden Stewart, a student at Stafford Middle School, was not particularly looking forward to his summer schedule.
His mother had signed him up for a Pre-Nursing Academy co-hosted by Texas Woman’s University’s Nelda C. Stark College of Nursing and the Stafford Municipal School District, and it was not something he would have chosen. Now, however, he has quite a story to tell when asked what he did on his summer vacation.
“I told my mom I didn’t want to go at the beginning, but now I’m glad she had me go to this program,” Stewart said. “It was more fun than I thought it would be.”
With a goal of recruiting minority nursing students and promoting culturally competent patient care, the Pre-Nursing Academy hosted its first summer program June 27 through July 1. Twenty-eight seventh graders from Stafford Middle School learned more about nursing from TWU faculty, as well as nursing students enrolled in the Stafford Middle School Community Experience.
TWU students created teaching plans and led interactive classrooms, teaching obstetrical, critical, newborn and wound care. TWU students also taught the use of crutches, explained how to take vital signs and led clinical simulation labs with simulated mannequin patients.
The academy also included a Friends and Family CPR class and general nursing lecture led by TWU faculty members, as well as a Texas Children’s Hospital tour.
“It’s been phenomenal to say the least,” said Assistant Professor Rachelle Nurse, who co-taught the course with Associate Professor Diane Montgomery. “The feedback so far has been overwhelming. On the first day, we asked the students how many wanted to be nurses. Two hands went up. By the end of the week, 70 percent of the class raised their hands.”
Stafford student Olivia Nwosu said that the program has encouraged her to study nursing.
“It was great,” said Nwosu, whose favorite lessons were the maternal and newborn care simulations. “I would study nursing because of this program.”
“There were tears, because now the middle school students have an expectation of wanting to become a nurse,” Nurse said. “We’re using nursing students to recruit the next generation of nurses, and we’re changing the perception of the nursing profession in the eyes of middle school students.”
Cameron Pujats, senior nursing student, said she wished that she would have had a program like the Pre-Nursing Academy when she was younger.
“Due to second-guessing my plans for the future, lots of doubts about my ability and fear of rejection, my path to becoming a nurse was full of roadblocks, but I feel like it would’ve been much smoother had I had a program like this growing up,” Pujats said. “I think it really shed light on the profession as a whole and showed students that it was more than working in a hospital and it was more than what they might see on television.”
The program also helped TWU students gain more confidence in their teaching skills.
“The most challenging part of this program was finding a way to teach children who were 11 and 12 years old about what nurses do and make it interesting and still educational,” said Elizabeth Garcia, senior nursing major. “I feel like this program was very successful… This experience has made me more comfortable with teaching, which is a huge part of nursing.”
Vivian Perez, senior nursing student, said that the academy has furthered her interest in pursuing a master’s in nursing, because she would love to teach and lead a program like the Pre-Nursing Academy.
“Teaching is an aspect of nursing many are unaware of and to be confident in my abilities to do that significantly increases my abilities as a nurse,” Perez said. “This program makes me look forward to the future of nursing.”