June 6, 2003
Catholic University’s School of Nursing has been awarded a three-year, $868,900 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration for a new academic program aimed at recruiting more Hispanic nursing students. CUA is one of 16 colleges and universities to which HHS — in the hopes of alleviating the current national nursing shortage — has given a total of $3.5 million in grants to support nursing education opportunities for disadvantaged and minority students. CUA is the only Washington, D.C., area and the only Catholic institution to receive the grant.
CUA’s initiative, the Latino Nursing Career Opportunity Program, is aimed at students in grades 7 through 12 in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County, Md. As in many localities nationwide, the Hispanic population in those local areas is the youngest and fastest-growing ethnic group, making up 10 percent of the total population. But, says Carmen Ramirez, principal investigator (director) of the new CUA program, Hispanic students are more likely than whites or African Americans to perform poorly on standardized tests, not finish high school and not attend college. There also is a shortage of Hispanic registered nurses — they comprise only 1.5 percent of all registered nurses in the Washington, D.C., area.
The CUA Latino Nursing Career Opportunity Program, slated to begin in July 2003, is designed to address this problem through three components: a pre-entry program for students designed to spur interest in the nursing field; a series of training workshops for faculty from CUA and other area nursing schools, and recruitment/retention of Hispanic students in the university’s nursing school.
For the pre-entry program, the School of Nursing will partner with eight middle, junior high and high schools in Washington, D.C., and Montgomery County that have a Hispanic student enrollment of 14 to 15 percent. Guidance counselors and school nurses in each school will work closely with an assigned CUA master’s or doctoral nursing student. Students at the schools can participate in a “Nursing Career Awareness Workshop,” where school staff and CUA representatives will discuss nursing career opportunities and inform students of resources available to them, including academic tutoring, standardized test preparation and information about applying to college.
Students can also attend a weeklong “Youth to College Summer Program” to
learn nursing skills such as measuring height and weight, taking temperatures and treating burns. They will visit CUA and area medical clinics, and spend time with registered nurses.
The proposed training workshops for nursing professionals will be held at CUA’s campus and will consist of four daylong sessions held at various times over the course of the grant. Participants will be instructed on cultural sensitivity and on how to advise and serve as mentors to minority or disadvantaged students.
The program’s third plank involves financial support in the form of stipends for incoming university students. A one-week, pre-entry orientation; study skills development; and peer and group tutoring will be available to new CUA students in the nursing program. Each student also will be assigned student, faculty and alumni mentors.
“Through the Latino Nursing Career Opportunity Program, children and adolescents can meet nurses and learn about their jobs in a variety of settings,” says Ann Marie T. Brooks, dean of the School of Nursing. “This helps spark heightened interest in nursing as a career. Catholic University is proud to be able help address the current nursing shortage and attract more minority youth to the health professions.”
Brooks says that the nursing school hopes to work with about 80 middle, junior high and high school students each year, and to bring to CUA a minimum of five Hispanic nursing school undergraduates annually. A total of 200 area nursing faculty are expected to attend the four training workshops for professionals over the project period.
The Catholic University of America School of Nursing has long been one of the nation's leading nursing schools. Founded in 1932, the school has graduated more than 8,000 nurses, many of whom now hold top leadership positions in hospitals and health care settings, academia, the military and government. Offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctor of science degrees, the School of Nursing is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. It partners with more than 130 clinical agencies in the Washington, D.C., area to provide students with a broad and diverse exposure to nursing, multicultural health-care practices and state-of-the-art research.
For more information about the program, contact Judith B. Jones, assistant to the dean, in the School of Nursing at 202-319-5403.
Media inquiries should be directed to Chris Harrison or Victor Nakas in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600. Interviews with Brooks and Ramirez are available.
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