A&M International Nursing Students Participate in Practicum Program

Four Texas A&M International University nursing students had a unique opportunity to gain real-world experience when they participated in a 10-week clinical practicum course at Mercy Health Center.

The innovative externship program was a collaborative effort of Mercy and the University's Dr. F. M. Canseco School of Nursing.

The students, Jimdavid Concepcion, Jermone Ntakirutimana, Sylvia Puente, and Rosa Saldivar, are now better prepared to continue their coursework and to join the work force after graduation, said Dr. Susan S. Baker, Director of the Canseco School of Nursing.

"Clinical practicum experience is necessary to produce a highly competent expert level of professional nurses. That's one reason why we developed this unique program. It provides students an opportunity to build professional ties, explore the realities of the day-to-day work environment, and apply the theory they've learned in class," said Dr. Baker.

Natalie Burkhalter, assistant professor of Nursing, taught the course and oversaw the students during the practicum.

"For the practicum component of the Special Topics nursing course, students spent 240 hours in Mercy's skilled nursing unit and emergency room. They gained college credit toward their degree and learned valuable skills. In addition, they are now eligible to work as nurse assistants in the hospital and receive additional financial assistance while they complete their studies," explained Burkhalter.

With so many pluses, it's not surprising that the course and practicum proved popular with both students and hospital personnel.

"We've had a very positive response to the program, both from the students and from those they worked with at Mercy. Students are already asking about next year's program, which we hope to expand," Dr. Baker added.

For more information on the nursing program at A&M International, please contact the University's Canseco School of Nursing at 326-2450. University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Additional information may also be obtained through the University's Home Page on the World Wide Web at http://www.tamiu.edu.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu