Our Nurses of the Week are the student nurses of the University of Pennsylvania Nurse-Midwifery program who have created a scholarship for midwives of color. Each class of the program delivers a class gift to their professors prior to graduation like artwork or a charity donation, but the Class of 2017 decided to try something unconventional.
The students reported that their inspiration came from looking around their own classroom and realizing that only two students out of the 21 person class were students of color. Nursing graduate Kateryn Nunez, one of the two students of color in her graduating class, tells TheDP.com, “The point of the scholarship is to address the fact that over 95 percent of midwives in the US are white, whereas the people they care for, the majority are people of color, are poor people, are immigrants, LGBTQ.”
Midwives provide a personalized approach to childbirth for healthy women with uncomplicated pregnancies. This was originally a common practice among black and immigrant populations but a stigma around home births discouraged people from communities of color from going into the field. As the “natural birth” movement gained popularity in recent decades, it created a racial imbalance in the profession that still exists today.
One of the largest barriers to entry for students of color to become midwives is affordability, which is why the 2017 Penn Nurse-Midwife class decided to create their scholarship. They have raised over $11,000 through grassroots fundraising from friends and family but have a total goal of $125,000. If they reach their goal, Penn will contribute an additional $25,000.
These students hope that their efforts will send a message to other universities about the importance of their scholarship. To learn more about Penn’s Nurse-Midwife program, visit here.
With a shortage of registered nurses (RNs) increasing nationwide, the California University of Pennsylvania (Cal U) has begun offering a master of science degree in nursing education to increase the number of faculty available to help train the next generation of nurses.
As RNs continue to get older and retire younger than previous generations, combined with a rise in number of patients and severity of illness, RNs and other healthcare professionals are in strong demand. Students in some health care programs are almost guaranteed jobs after graduation because of the demand for nurses, but there is a lack of nursing educators available to train nurses at the college level.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) released an October 2016 report stating that there were more than 1,500 jobs available for faculty at nursing schools and a need for 133 more to meet today’s demand. Mary O’Connor, program coordinator and professor at California University of Pennsylvania, tells BizJournals.com, “We’re hoping to address the shortage to create faculty for schools of nursing and well-prepared educators to teach in hospitals.”
The creation of the nursing education program was sparked by Cal U’s nursing advisory board who want to help prepare more advanced practice nurses to teach new nurses. The shortage is so severe at some nursing schools that nursing programs have been forced to leave spots for nursing students unfilled because there aren’t enough professors to teach them.
Cal U’s nursing education program is 100 percent online, preparing graduates to instruct nurses in academic or healthcare settings. Students will learn how to develop, implement, and evaluate nursing education programs and curricula during the 36-credit, two-year program.
To learn more about Cal U’s master of science in nursing education degree program, visit here.
This past summer, a group of nurses in Pennsylvania created the nonprofit Nurses of Pennsylvania with the main goal to be to focus on the safety and care of patients in health care.
According to a statement issued in September, Nurses of Pennsylvania is a group “of, by, and for nurses focused on improving the bedside care nurses provide. PA nurses work in cities and small towns, at large hospitals, in nursing homes, and more—tied together by our commitment to our patients, our families, and our communities. United for quality care, Nurses of Pennsylvania is focused on leading the state to a healthcare system that gives nurses a seat at the decision-making table and puts patients first.”
As stated on their website, more than 10,000 nurses have joined—either online or in-person—since the group launched. Initially funded by union nurses in SEIU HCPA, the Nurses of Pennsylvania is managed by a volunteer board of nurses and advocates in the health care field.
Under the heading “Why Nurses,” the group states: “Nurses are the single biggest group of people in the healthcare system. We spend the most time with our patients, and are the people who they see and interact with the most. We provide most of the care that patients receive, and our priority is always our patients’ well-being first, money second. We are the most respected profession in American for the last 15 years in a row, and we live in every county in the state. If anyone has the power and the motivation to fix healthcare in this country, it is nurses together, and if we can do it in Pennsylvania then we can do it anywhere.”
The nonprofit has already released a report, “Breaking Point: Pennsylvania’s Patient Care Crisis,” the results of which are based on a survey of 1,000 nurses located throughout the state of Pennsylvania. The results found that while Pennsylvania is not currently experiencing a nursing shortage, staffing decisions made by individual facilities and the ability to retain qualified nurses have fueled a crisis in patient care. An overwhelming 94% of nurses reported that their facility does not have enough nursing staff and 87% reported that staffing levels affecting patient care are getting worse.
“We spend the most time with patients, and we’re the people patients and their families rely on the most,” Jake Reese, a nurse in Scranton, PA as well as a Nurses of Pennsylvania board member, said in a statement. “As nurses, we take pride in buckling down and figuring out solutions at warp speed, but there is only so far any one of us can stretch. Giant corporations and multi-billion-dollar hospital systems are making decisions about care and care delivery farther and farther away from the bedside. This has to stop. We’re playing with first and we cannot stand by any longer. As Nurses of Pennsylvania, we’re speaking out and sharing our stories like never before.”
For more information about the Nurses of Pennsylvania, visit www.nursesofpa.org.
Our Nurse of the Week is Yaneli Arizmendi, a University of Pennsylvania (Penn) nursing senior who is spearheading an after-school program for Latino high school students in South Philadelphia intended to drive improved academic success and build self-efficacy. The project titled Lanzando Lideres (Launching Leaders) will be funded via Penn’s Engagement and Innovation Prize program. Yaneli was one of eight undergraduate students to receive the honor following her internship with Puentes de Salud as part of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Nursing Internship Program.
Yaneli will work with Alexa Salas and Camilo Toro, seniors in the College of Arts & Sciences, under mentorship from Toni Villarruel, the Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing. These students want to position Latino high school students to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals through an experiential, bilingual, and culturally-inclusive curriculum which will serve as the touchstone for the Lanzando Lideres program.
To learn more about Yaneli’s leadership on the Lanzando Lideres project and her background in nursing, read our full interview with her here:
What made you decide to pursue a nursing degree?
I’m very hands-on, so I’ve always wanted to pursue a career that requires physical engagement and practical application. My experience at Puentes de Salud – through the Independence Blue Cross Foundation’s Nursing Internship Program – cemented my desire to pursue a career in nursing. At the clinic, I worked with the triage nurse to initiate the visits for the walk-in patients. The clinic was always full because of the demand for patient care services, so the wait times were long. After learning the structure of the clinic, I started to begin triage for the provider and gather information about the chief complaint to determine whether the patient needed to be seen and, in certain cases, prepare the patient to see a doctor.
Tell me about your involvement with the after-school program for Latino high school students in Philadelphia.
Right now, we are still in the early stages of collaboration with our partner, Puentes de Salud, a south Philadelphia-based nonprofit that promotes the health and wellness of the rapidly growing Latino immigrant population through high-quality health care, innovative educational programs, and community building. Our program will be rooted in three principles: education, enrichment, and engagement.
We plan to launch the program in September, so our first priority is to develop an experiential, bilingual, and culturally inclusive curriculum that will serve as the touchstone of our program. Eventually, we will disseminate our curriculum and resources through an interactive website for students, tutors, and a larger community of Latino youth worldwide.
Ultimately, we hope to create a culturally grounded, community-based program that helps drive improved academic performance and builds self-efficacy, so students are positioned to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals.
What is the mission or goal of the program?
The program’s mission is to continuously improve the long-term health and prosperity of the South Philadelphia Latino immigrant community by actively addressing social and systematic inequities.
Was your internship at Puentes de Salud your inspiration for the after-school project?
The internship was an inspiration for the after-school program because it exposed me to the need in the community and the strategies to address health disparities. The relationship between community work, education, and health has a lot of potential when addressing the social inequities. Currently, the education program only serves elementary school students, but it does not serve high-school students, and my team and I hope to expand the mission of Puentes de Salud.
How do you think your internship and involvement with the after-school program will benefit and impact your nursing career in the future?
My internship and involvement with the after-school program have enriched my nursing career. I hope to continue to work with this population and serve the community holistically. I want to address the social determinants of health in my community and remain an advocate.
What are your future plans for a career in nursing?
In the short-term, I will continue my education via the University of Pennsylvania’s Family Nurse Practitioner Program.
Nurses with research doctorates are vital in improving patient outcomes and quality of care. However, less than 5 percent of nurses have PhDs, the education needed to perform independent research according to the National Institute of Nursing Research. The aging and retirement of current nurse researchers indicates a coming shortage of nurse scientists that could impact future nurse research contributions to healthcare delivery.
To help prevent this shortage, the Hillman Program in Nursing Innovation developed the idea for a BSN to PhD program to accelerate education opportunities for new and young nurse researchers. The University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) was the first school to implement the idea, and took it a step further by developing an immersion experience in clinical nursing practice for PhD students through a partnership with the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Hillman Scholar Madelyne Z. Greene says, “Research shows that the average age of students entering nursing PhD programs is early 40s, which is far older than many other disciplines. This shortens the duration of nurse scientists’ productive careers as researchers, educators and innovative leaders. There is a compelling need for increased innovation in preparing new nurse scientists, leaders and innovators earlier in their careers.”
Scholars in Penn’s BSN to PhD program are both undergraduate and PhD students at the same time, as early as their junior undergraduate year or upon entry to the second degree accelerated BSN program. Students achieve rapid progression through the rigorous coursework by replacing specific required undergraduate courses like healthcare policy and research methods with graduate-level versions. They also enroll in PhD core courses and advanced coursework in their selected research content area during undergraduate semesters instead of taking electives.
The truly unique aspect of the program is the seven-month fellowship, which is distinct from existing residencies for new nurse graduates. It includes a high level of clinical and scholarly mentoring, shorter program length, and waiver of the usual requirement of committing to work for the sponsoring institution for a set time upon graduation.
To learn more about Penn Nursing’s BSN to PhD program and nursing fellowship, visit here.
Our two Nurses of the Week are University of Pennsylvania nursing seniors Marcus Henderson and Ian McCurry who are working to transform the way the homeless community in Philadelphia receives health care. Both students are focused on using a community-oriented approach to health care to target shortcomings in the current health system.
Their project “Homeless Health and Nursing: Building Community Partnerships for a Healthier Future” was awarded the 2017 President’s Engagement Prize which includes $100,000 in funding. The senior students partnered with the Bethesda Project, a Philadelphia nonprofit working to reduce homelessness and provide more community-oriented health care by being proactive in addressing health disparities before these homeless individuals reach the emergency room.
Henderson and McCurry have both been caretakers in their young lives. In middle school, Henderson took care of his great aunt with Down syndrome and his grandmother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease after school each day. This led him to study public health in high school and eventually join Penn’s nursing program.
McCurry was inspired to become a nurse and caregiver by his veteran mom who he says taught him to look at communities through a nursing lens. As a teenager, he helped adults in his community with developmental disabilities and later worked as a counselor for them, leading him down a natural path to nursing.
Now, both senior nursing students are pursuing their passions and breaking stereotypes about male nurses. Many male nurses choose to go into military or administrative roles, but Henderson and McCurry plan to continue on their path to community nursing and breaking down barriers for marginalized community populations.
To learn more about Henderson and McCurry and their passion project to revolutionize community healthcare for homeless individuals, visit here.