Wednesday, January 7, 2009

MCG Camp Gives College Students Head Start for Nursing School

College freshmen and sophomores interested in nursing can get a head start on their careers at the Medical College of Georgia School of Nursing this summer.

The second annual Nursing Career Summer Camp is a five-week program designed to prepare undergraduates for the challenges of nursing school, while also increasing diversity in the school's applicant pool.

"We've found that students over the years are surprised when they begin nursing school," said Dr. Deborah Smith, project director of the school's Nursing Workforce Diversity Project, which encompasses the camp. "They still think they can memorize information and make it through, but nursing students must understand and apply information, and that's a shocker to some."

Jan. 30 is the application deadline for the camp, which begins May 16.

The Nursing Workforce Diversity Project, funded by a three-year, $742,000 Health Resources and Services Administration grant, also provides scholarships, loaner laptops and peer tutoring for MCG nursing students. The grant covers all expenses for camp participants, including housing, tuition and a $250 monthly stipend.

The camp includes an introductory pathophysiology course and enrichment courses on reading comprehension, writing and general mathematics.

"Pathophysiology, which looks at how disease processes affect the different body systems, seems to be one of the more difficult courses for nursing students, so we wanted to give camp participants an introduction to the course," said Dr. Smith, assistant chair of the Department of Health Environments and Systems.

Participants also will spend time in the MCG Interdisciplinary Simulation Center and shadow MCGHealth Inc. nurses.

This summer's camp is expanding to accept 15 participants from across Georgia. Last year, there were six local participants. Special consideration is given to applicants who are under-represented in nursing, which includes minorities, males and students from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

"The community we serve is very diverse, and traditionally we haven't had a large number of diverse students from under-represented backgrounds entering any of the health professions," said Dr. Smith. "When you have health care professionals from various perspectives and backgrounds, you have better outreach to everyone in the community."

"Two students from last year's program are now enrolled and successfully advancing in our nursing program," said Dr. Shirley Quarles, co-director of the Nursing Workforce Diversity Project and interim chair of the Department of Physiological and Technological Nursing. "We look forward to continued successful matriculation of students from diverse backgrounds."

For more information or to apply, visit www.mcg.edu/son/initiatives/diversity.htm.

By Paula Hinely
MCG

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