JACKSON, Tenn. – April 18, 2011– Ten students from Jackson Central-Merry Academy of Medical Technology became the first group to participate in a new program which introduces students to the nursing profession, thanks to a recent partnership between the high school and Union University’s Center for Excellence in Health Care Practice.
Every Friday for 14 weeks this winter and spring, the small group of junior and senior students visit Union’s campus to gain practical nursing skills at the Center for Excellence in Health Care Practice, located in Providence Hall.
Tim Smith, dean of the School of Nursing and executive director of the Center for Excellence in Health Care Practice, said many of the students entered the program aspiring to be nursing assistants. After only a few weeks of doing assignments in the hospital simulation rooms at Union, however, many decided they want to apply the extra time, money and effort required to be registered nurses.
“This program gives them hope,” Smith said, “because it puts them in the environment to achieve more than they thought they could.”
Joy Thomason, assistant professor of nursing and director of undergraduate nursing education for the Center for Excellence in Health Care Practice, administers the Friday classes.
The students receive an assignment each week, which helps them to learn an aspect of the profession. Topics include working in a sterile environment, bed-side care and working in simulation rooms, where simulators are electronically controlled to respond to care-givers in a hospital setting.
Each lesson is designed to teach the students how to administer patient care and how to think critically.
Discussion about creating the program began when the high school received a three-year school improvement grant.
“Since the health science field is the largest employer in this area and is one of the fastest growing industries, we decided to change the high school to a health science magnet school,” said Robert Conder, grant facilitator for the school.
Smith, Thomason, Conder and others designed the instructional nursing contract.
The students had to be more than interested in nursing to be chosen as the first to enter the program.
“The girls are selected based on (their teacher’s) standards, which require good grades, maturity, behavior and interest in the health care industry,” Conder said.
He said interaction with university professors and feedback from them are two of the most beneficial aspects of the partnership for the students.
By Samantha Adams (’13)