Getting Started: Incoming nursing students experience college through an intensive summer program
Dr. Terry Garcia holds many different roles at Marquette College of Nursing as Director of Inclusive Excellence and Student Success, as well as the lead director of Project BEYOND-2, a program designed to improve outcomes for diverse students in nursing.
One day, Garcia plays an elderly patient.
She sits alone in a room designed to look like an apartment, waiting for a soon-to-be BEYOND-2 student to walk through the door. Once the door opens and a 17-year-old girl enters, Garcia talks about the problems she is having with her medication and complains of symptoms of an unknown illness, testing the young nurse’s communication skills while her friends watch the encounter on a television screen below. the hall.
“Students feel embarrassed and afraid to walk into the apartment, but they get better the more they do it,” Garcia says.
In fact, these students aren’t even technically college students yet; They are high school graduates participating in Project BEYOND-2’s Pre-Admission Intensive Program, or PAI. For four days, more than 30 students who qualify for Project BEYOND-2 acclimatize to the campus through discussions with professors, group bonding activities and simulations like the one Garcia participated in.
The PAI program has been around since the relaunch of Project BEYOND-2 in 2007. Many of the program participants are first-generation college students and almost all come from backgrounds that are underrepresented in higher education. This can make the transition from high school to college—already a stressful time—more difficult.
“I remember going to a lot of sessions that provided me with really good information and being able to go into the simulation lab for the first time,” says Chrissy Todd, a BEYOND-2 alumna who now works as a college mentor/counselor. . “I met some of my lifelong friends at PAI as well.”
Today’s students experience PAI in the same way Todd did. Allianne Winchester, a freshman from Waukesha, came to campus early because she thought it would be a good way to get started on the social aspects of college.
“During my freshman year of high school, I had a hard time making friends, and I’ve definitely learned since then to branch out and meet new people whenever possible because you need that support group during college,” Winchester says.
“Nursing is about being part of a team, so it’s best to get to know your team before you officially become one.”
This teamwork was on full display during the students’ first trip to the simulation lab. Small groups branch out into different rooms and work together to practice basic nursing skills. Right, two first-year students learned how to check a patient’s pulse. On the left, a program mentor speaks to six enrollees about maternity care next to a mannequin of a pregnant woman. Another group spoke in the debriefing room about how to interact with elderly patients.
Students can also learn about resources they will need in college, including the College of Nursing website and the D2L learning management platform. Professors from anatomy and physiology classes meet with the group to offer advice on academic success. MUPD tells students how to stay safe around the city.
Seeing future Marquette nurses adjust so quickly to college life makes Garcia and Todd, first-generation graduates themselves, proud.
“I would have had to navigate the entire college system on my own without Project BEYOND-2,” Todd says. “I’m also an only child, and my parents have never gone through the US college application process. It was a lot of searching for who was there to help me, and BEYOND-2 definitely is.
“When I was going to school, there were no programs like PAI or Project BEYOND-2,” Garcia says. “It could have had a huge impact on my life. I wasn’t always successful in some of the courses I took, but if I had a support system to help me navigate through college and teach me how to learn, I would likely have completed my final degree earlier in my life.”
Although PAI program participants are not expected to have any nursing experience, many are already certified nursing assistants. Many, like Winchester, have a mission to be nurses despite being more than a month away from their first nursing classes.
“I was a pediatric patient for a long time and absolutely loved the nurses,” Winchester says. “They were the sweetest people in the whole world. I got through treatment because of them, so I always wanted to be there for people in the same way the nurses were for me.”
PAI includes activities beyond the classroom. Excursions such as campus scavenger hunts and game nights help students feel part of the campus community.
Marquette Nursing is rooted in the Jesuit tradition of cura personalis, or caring for the whole person. Staff and faculty believe that students must feel mentally, physically and spiritually nourished before they can effectively care for others, which is why group fun and nursing simulation are equally important.
“They feel nervous and maybe a little scared on their first day, but by the end of the program, they don’t want to leave because they’ve made friends,” Garcia says.