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“Nurses 2B” Let’s High School Students Get a Head Start on Their Careers

Posted: Nov. 28, 2016
“Nurses 2B” Let’s High School Students Get a Head Start on Their Careers

Late summer 2015, while on break for lunch, members of the nursing staff of South Nassau Communities Hospital’s Pediatric Unit, also referred to as “2B” on the hospital’s campus map, delved into a deep discussion about the rising percentage of the nursing workforce nearing retirement age and the declining number of new nurses entering the profession.

The discussion was prompted by the results of a 2013 survey conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing and The Forum of State Nursing Workforce Center which found that 55% of the RN workforce is age 50 or older, and the Health Resources and Services Administration projection that more than a million registered nurses will reach retirement age within the next 10 to 15 years.

As is typical of nurses at South Nassau, the nurses on 2B, led by their nurse manager Lynn Bert, RN, NP, took action and came up with a plan.  After a few weeks of meetings with Sue Penque, Ph.D., RN, CNP, South Nassau’s chief nursing officer and senior vice president of patient care services, as well as their nursing colleagues throughout the hospital, Ms. Bert and her team rolled out the “Nurses 2B” program.
“Nurses 2B has been designed as a first step in the solution to reducing the pending void of nursing talent caused by the aging nursing population and in recognition of our obligation to embrace and support the nurses of the future,” said Dr. Penque. “By introducing high school students to the field of nursing now, we hope that it will deepen their passion for careers in nursing.”

A total of 26 local area high school students enrolled in and successfully completed the inaugural semester of Nurses 2B.  This fall 21 students are enrolled in the program, which consists of six, 90-minute weekly seminars held on Wednesdays from 7:00-8:30pm.  The seminars are presented by nurses from different areas of clinical practice, from the emergency department to the operating room, who explain their roles and responsibilities; the illnesses, diseases and injuries that they treat; and demonstrate the skills they apply to care for their patients.  Upon completion of the program, students assist with a community health event hosted by the hospital, earning them volunteer hours towards their high school diplomas while working alongside registered nurses.

As for the nurses who volunteer their time and talents to teach the students, they receive certificates that may be applied to Clinical Advancement Programs.  Ms. Bert, however, attests that is not the motive for the selflessness of her colleagues:  “Each instructor was hand-selected because I knew the positive influence each has been for me.  How fortunate the students are to get a glimpse of their passion and commitment to their profession. It is my hope that the students achieve the excellence of my peers because perhaps they may be taking care of us someday.”

Nurses 2B

Pediatrics Nurse Manager Lynn Bert, RN, NP, (second from left, standing) gathers with “Nurses 2B” students following a recent class, which focused on infant care and nutrition.  Students enrolled in this session of the Nurses 2B program are from local schools, including Oceanside, Rockville Centre, Baldwin, Freeport, Long Beach and Hewlett.

Nurses 2 B will continue to be offered biannually in the fall and spring.  Ms. Bert and her team will hand deliver fliers to area high school guidance departments stating: “Attention High School Students: Are You Thinking about a Future in the Field of Nursing?” followed by an invitation to students with an interest in a nursing career to register for the “free Nurse 2B program,”

In addition to Nurses 2B, South Nassau offers nurse internship, Operating Room (OR) Training and Emergency Department (ED) Fellowship programs.  Now in its 25th year, nearly 600 nursing candidates have completed the eight-week, 300-hour nurse intern clinical program.

The OR program is designed to provide basic instructive perioperative education that will give the novice OR nurse the rationale and theory needed to provide safe patient care.  The ED Fellowship is a 16-week guided intensive program consisting of both instructive and clinical experiences designed to prepare experienced registered nurses to work in the emergency room setting.

Numerous competency-based and evidence-based programs are made available to all levels of staff to promote continuous learning and development. Specific programs are geared toward ancillary hospital staff, in the realization that many aspire to enter the nursing profession.

Designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), South Nassau® Communities Hospital is one of the region’s largest hospitals, with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees.  Located in Oceanside, NY, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency services.  In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies.  A Level II Trauma Center verified by the American College of Surgeons, South Nassau is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons, and is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Association and Quality Improvement Program.  In addition, the hospital has been awarded the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures, including heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care; and disease-specific care for hip and joint replacement, wound care and end-stage renal disease. For more information, visit www.southnassau.org.