CSM Nursing Students Illuminate Path to a Nursing Degree for Area High Schoolers to Help Build Local Workforce Pipeline

January 9, 2023
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From left Dr. James A. Forrest Career & Technology Center Bonnie Skinner, an instructor at the Charles County Public School’s Academy of Health Professions, and CSM Alpha Omega members Bernalyn Vaznaian, Pamela Athey, and Rachel Harrison prepare to meet with aspiring nursing students.

A recent cohort of CSM nursing students worked together to clarify the path to nursing school for local high school students, earning themselves admission to a prestigious honor society – Alpha Omega, CSM’s chapter of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) Alpha Delta Nu Honor Society – in the process.

The nursing students were especially excited to share the benefits of enrolling at CSM, including a tuition discount for students who dual enroll while still in high school, credits that can easily transfer to a bachelor’s degree program through transfer agreements, and programs that can get you into the workforce quickly.

“When I was in high school, we weren’t really told CSM was an option or that nursing was a path,” said Alpha Omega student Bernalyn Vaznaian ’22 of Great Mills. “I had to dig and find the resources myself; no one sits down with you and explains the transition to nursing school and what that looks like.”

With the help of CSM’s ‘Associates to Bachelors’ Coordinator Mona Weber, the nursing students presented to interested students at St. Charles High School in Charles County, the Calvert Technology Academy in Calvert County and the Forest Career Technology Center in St. Mary’s County.

“The high school students seemed to really enjoy hearing about how to petition into CSM’s nursing program,” said Weber. “Hopefully in coming academic years the Alpha Omega students will have an opportunity to visit more high schools to connect with students who are interested in nursing careers.”

CSM's nursing students know that promoting nursing as a profession is especially important because the country is currently facing a nursing shortage that is expected to worsen. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nursing school enrollment is not growing fast enough to meet the projected demand, while a significant segment of the nursing workforce is nearing retirement age. The United States Registered Nurse Workforce Report Card and Shortage Forecast published in the American Journal of Medical Quality found that a shortage of registered nurses is projected to spread across the country through 2030.

“What made this project unique is that it involved the nursing students looking into trends happening in the nursing profession and using skills gained in the program to find a solution,” said Chair of CSM’s Nursing Program Dr. Sara Cano. “Students do an excellent job on finding areas for development while connecting the CSM and nursing program mission, vision, and values.”

As the 10 students in the college's cohort discussed and planned the project and the paths that brought them to nursing, and discovered that for many of them, though they had long known that they wanted to be a nurse, they had not known much about the process of applying to nursing school, or how to get there from high school. They decided to meet directly with high school students and walk them through the process.

Queenie Hernandez ’22 of Waldorf said that the high school students had a number of questions about the day-to-day life of a nursing student, from curiosity about the nursing students’ experiences during clinical rotations to questions about how quickly they can start their career through the program.

"I’m not sure what we expected, but the high school students all seemed truly interested in what we had to say," said Lilianna Gusky ’22, of Faulkner. "You should have seen the response we got when we mentioned that there are nurses who work on cruise ships! That got everyone’s attention.”

Each year, CSM’s top nursing students are invited to join Alpha Omega, CSM’s chapter of the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (OADN) Alpha Delta Nu Honor Society. To be eligible for this distinction, students need to earn Bs or better in their nursing courses without repeating the courses and complete a scholarly project related to the advancement of nursing as a profession and they must complete a join capstone project.

Learn more about how the CSM Health Pathway can take you to a career in the medical professions. Start work right away with an associate’s degree in some fields, or get the foundation you need for the next step beyond CSM. Visit https://www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/pathways/health/index.html.

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