Student nurses at Texas A&M International University are being taught that healthcare is truly a matter of the heart, mind and community.
While the University's Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at the Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing is relatively new, it has become one of its fastest growing undergraduate programs. Nurses learn under an innovative transcultural learning model that maintains that the patient's cultural values must figure into health assessment and care.
Tapping into the bicultural and bilingual realities of the border's fastest growing community, the University's program is targeting expanded enrollment of regional Hispanic nursing students.
A recent federal grant known as STAT-RN (South Texas Access to RN Education) encourages this further by providing students with increased tutorial support, learning materials, development of on-line testing, study skill development as well as opportunities for faculty development.
For their part, students say the fully accredited program affords them a rare opportunity to provide much-needed health care that is sensitive to the needs of their community .
Student Roberto Castaneda Jr. said he's found A&M International's nursing program is as much about knowing the community as it is about knowing health care.
"Health care has the ability to change a community but the community also has a direct effect on health care. The program here realizes the need for nursing professionals that are not only qualified in clinical practice, but also are sensitive to the cultural identity and needs of its citizens. I believe my fellow student nurses and I will be a valuable asset to Laredo as a result of our enriched education that stresses the community in which it exists," Castaneda said.
Sylvia C. Puente, another student nurse, concurs.
"The curriculum helps to prepare and teach the students the importance of healthcare within our community and our culture," Puente confirmed.
Bertha A. Ortiz said she's impressed with the way the transcultural model informs the entire program.
"From concepts of health promotion to critical thinking, the transcultural model of nursing practice is emphasized in all courses by all faculty," Ortiz noted.
Dr. Susan Baker, Canseco School of Nursing Director, said the program's utilization of a transcultural model and STAT-RN program support are crucial to assuring greater Hispanic representation in the health professions.
"At both national and state levels, nurses from Hispanic backgrounds are seriously under-represented in comparison to other ethnic groups and to the percentage of Hispanics in the general population. In Laredo and Webb County we have a 95% Hispanic population capable of addressing this shortage. It's interesting to note that in Spring '99 we admitted 34 students (32 Hispanic, one African and one Asian) and this spring we admitted 30 students. The latter group is completely Hispanic," Dr. Baker explained.
"We're very impressed with our students and how effective this program has been at nurturing their skills and abilities. We believe they will all make fine nurses and that the communities they serve, no matter where they are located, will be measurably bettered," she added.
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