Walk This Way: Graduating Associate Degree Nurses Utilizing an Innovative Academic/Practice Partnership for a High School Dual Enrollment Program
Rivas, Cynthia Lopez
Woodward, Lisa J.
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Session presented on Sunday, July 26, 2015: The global nursing shortage continues to strain healthcare, especially in economically disadvantaged areas. Recruitment in these areas is difficult despite local colleges being at capacity enrollment for nursing programs leaving a discrepancy between the supply and the demand for quality nurses. To further exacerbate the problem, intelligent and capable high school students may not be able to attend college to eaRN nursing degree due to socioeconomic factors such as a lack of access to funds and demands to help support the immediate family. A review of the literature reveals very few attempts at creating dual enrollment programs for entrance into healthcare professions; they are, however, limited to allied health, health technologies, and licensed vocational nursing. High school dual enrollment programs have proven successful in South Texas where over 12,500 students are currently enrolled and dual enrollment student success rates are higher than traditional community college students. In an effort to engage these motivated students and help meet the demand for quality nurses, a proposal has been made to local community partners to develop a high school dual enrollment nursing program. This program is unique in that upon high school graduation the dual enrollment students are concurrently awarded an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). The creation of public and private community partnerships connect a community college, local school districts, a regional education service center, and a health system with the goal of cultivating a continuous pipeline of professional nurses to fill nursing vacancies. Moreover, much like in an apprenticeship, this program allows students to have practice experiences thus building a relationship with their future employer. Innovative teaching strategies such as use of clinical simulation experiences, structured and scaffolded clinical experiences, and dedicated education units are incorporated. All partners and the community at large benefit from such a program as it positively impacts this underserved region by providing health, economic, and financial benefits. Each partner significantly contributes to the dual enrollment program. The local community college provides the nursing degree curriculum, awards the college degree, and provides training for faculty. The local school districts supply the high school curriculum, a program coordinator, academic and personal support for the student and their family, as well as use of simulation lab. The regional education service center affords additional program support and funding opportunities. The local health system provides clinical faculty, clinical preceptors, clinical site, and professional development support post-graduation for the nurse to attain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The engagement of community partners is essential for the design and success of such a program and multiple future research and expansion opportunities exist.