Our Nurses of the Week are the nursing students from Northern Arizona University (NAU) who donate their time on an annual mission trip to Guatemala to treat women with cervical cancer and provide health screenings and education to as many Guatemalans as possible.
Cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in Guatemala, taking the lives of over 1,400 Mayan women per year. The disease is treatable when detected early, but women in the developing country don’t receive the regular checkups and treatment they need for early diagnosis. 31 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer in the US die each year, compared with 48 percent in Guatemala – quite a jump.
Dorothy Dunn, an assistant professor in the Northern Arizona University School of Nursing, became interested in Latin America while taking history classes as an undergrad. Gaining a passion for global outreach, she decided to find out why a curable cancer is killing so many Mayan women. Dunn tells News.NAU.edu,
“Because Guatemala is a low-resource country, women lack the regular checkups and treatment they need, resulting in a very late-stage cancer diagnosis. They are then placed on a waiting list of more than 2,000 people in hopes of living long enough to receive radiation treatment – most of whom don’t.”
This led Dunn to the Center for International Education, where she established an international study abroad program providing NAU nursing students with the opportunity to treat Mayan women through a partnership with the Guatemalan-based nonprofit, Nursing Heart Inc. NAU’s program is unique from other international programs in that a group of students returns to the same town and same people every year, providing them with annual ‘check-ups’ and checking on their patients’ progress.
Students from NAU have been traveling with Dunn annually to Santa Maria de Jesus since 2013 where over 500 people flock each year to receive treatment. They focus on women’s health care, spending the first three days providing Mayan women with cervical cancer screenings. It’s a program everyone benefits from as the women get treatment they don’t otherwise receive and students get hands-on experience and the chance to save lives.
Guatemala has also seen an influx in obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. For many of the country’s poorer families, low-nutrient, high-calorie, high-sugar, and high-salt processed foods are all that are affordable. These diseases are often manageable in developed countries, but without adequate healthcare funding and access to medications, these diseases are causing even more early deaths in Guatemalans. Hoping to provide Guatemalans with preventative measures they can implement into their daily lives, Dunn and her students spend the fourth day at the clinic providing patient education.
To learn more about NAU’s Guatemalan study abroad program and Dunn’s involvement in founding and continuing its mission, visit here.
Argosy University, Phoenix is launching a new Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program designed for licensed registered nurses (RNs) who have earned their associate’s degree or a diploma in nursing. The new program was created partly in response to information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that the nursing industry is becoming more competitive as demand for quality healthcare increases and statistics showing RNs with a BSN degree have better job prospects.
Argosy’s new BSN program builds on pre-licensure nursing coursework to prepare students for professional advancement while meeting recommendations from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) that a BSN is the primary pathway to professional nursing. Further guidelines from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) outlines two specific goals for the field of nursing by 2020: an 80-percent baccalaureate-prepared nursing workforce and a doubling of doctorates held by nurses.
Diann DeWitt, PhD, RN, CNE, chair of the nursing program at Argosy University, Phoenix, told PRNewswire.com,
“There is a need for bachelor’s degree nursing programs to help both nurses and hospitals in the state of Arizona. By focusing on courses geared towards building the necessary skills professional nurses require, graduates will be better prepared to advance their careers in nursing and meet the growing demand for qualified healthcare professionals.”
Nursing courses at Argosy University, Phoenix will be delivered in blended format, combining online and on-campus experiences. Classes will be held on campus one day per week to provide flexibility to working nurses. The university will also partner with local hospitals and agencies to offer cohort classes for students to gain skills tailored to the needs of specific nursing and healthcare organizations.
Meet our Nurse of the Week, Melanie Ryan, a critical care nurse whose career caring for young patients in pediatric and neonatal intensive care units encouraged her son to follow in her path, pursuing a nursing degree from Arizona State University (ASU) and a life devoted to helping others.
After coming across Melanie’s story, we were compelled to share her journey in nursing with the DailyNurse community. Like so many others, her path to nursing was not a direct one. She began her education as an engineering student and later changed course in an effort to cope with her sister’s death in a tragic car accident. Rather than let tragedy paralyze her, Melanie chose to use it as a springboard to her path in nursing, and a love for her work has kept her going as she realized that a life devoted to helping others was what she was born to do. It takes a special kind of nurse to care for the most vulnerable patients of all, and a special kind of mother to inspire her son to follow in her footsteps.
Thank you, Melanie, for your inspiring work as a critical care nurse who strives daily to make a difference in the lives of young patients and their families.
To learn more about Melanie’s nursing journey, visit ASU Now.
To address the nursing shortage in Arizona, the University of Arizona (UA) College of Nursing created an accelerated master’s program for people who hold university degrees in other fields. The only program of its kind offered in Arizona, it is 15 months long and offered in both Tucson and Phoenix. Reaching a record number of students, the Master of Science for Entry to the Profession of Nursing (MEPN) program enrolled 113 students last May, up from 98 students the previous year.
Nursing shortages are occurring nationwide due to increased healthcare demands and working nurses aging out of the profession. UA’s nursing program hopes to continue expanding to help fill the nursing workforce as well as facilitate students looking for a great profession. In addition to accepting more students into the accelerated master’s program, admissions to the program also increased this year from 220 to 260.
The MEPN might even be more appealing to some students because it is less selective than UA’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. So far, the program has enrolled students with a wide range of degrees from neuroscience to fashion design, with many students having held long professional careers before acceptance into the master’s nursing program. These older and more experienced students have a lot to bring to the table; their maturity and professionalism often translates well into nursing.
Students choose to make a career switch to nursing for a variety reasons, many of them being attracted to the stability that nursing offers or looking for a more fulfilling career path. The program is not easy, squeezing four and a half years of nursing curriculum and training into 15 months, and requiring students to complete 1,000 clinical hours. The program doesn’t remove any curriculum from the education that bachelor’s students receive, so students and educators are forced to operate in double time.
Most MEPN students don’t have time for outside jobs with their tight schedules of classes, labs, and coursework; however, the program does offer flexibility because students pursue a nursing career in an expedited way. This also allows for a more diverse student population like first-generation students who are working to support their families. The UA College of Nursing and the university’s department for Diversity and Inclusion are proud to train students to serve in diverse communities where medical needs are more profound. There aren’t enough nurses currently in the field to serve diverse communities in Arizona so it’s important to facilitate that need through this program.