Students Don Scrubs to Explore Nursing

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“I want to be the President, a doctor or a nurse,” Angel, 11, says when asked what he wants to be when he grows up. With the help of Children’s Aid, he’s on his way to achieving one of those dreams through our Growing Our Own Nurses program, which introduces middle school students from the Mirabal Sisters Campus in Washington Heights to nursing specifically as a rewarding and attainable profession.

According to the American Nursing Association, more than 80 percent of nurses in the U.S. currently identify themselves as White (Non-Hispanic). There is a general shortage of nurses across the country and minority nurses are in even higher demand. The Growing Our Own Nurses program helps to address this need by introducing minority youth to a profession that is in need of people like them.

Throughout the year, founder of the program, Jill Gallin, an Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing at the Columbia University School of Nursing and Children’s Aid’s school-based health clinic nurse practitioner and Yentil Pichardo, an after-school specialist at the Mirabal Sisters Campus, teach students how to take vital signs and provide basic first aid instruction. In addition, they discuss public-health issues that affect the students’ community, such as type II diabetes and obesity.

Once a week, the students don scrubs and leave their classroom to meet practicing professional nurses on the job. Program partners include nurses and nursing students from the following organizations: The Visiting Nurse Service of New York, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Jewish Home and Hospital, Columbia University School of Nursing and the William F. Ryan Community Health Center.

Most recently, students finished their year’s career exploration at one of the most prestigious health facilities in the country, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Washington, DC. Students enjoyed a special tour of NIH’s clinical research center and participated in activities such as extracting DNA from strawberries, drawing blood from a fake arm and performing virtual colonoscopies on the computer. Funded in part by Johnson & Johnson, the Growing Our Own Nurses program is privately funded. To learn more about how you can support programs like Growing Our Own Nurses, please visit the donate page.