Tylaisha Huff has dreamed of becoming a nurse since she was about six years old.
“Working in oncology is what I wanted to do. Helping people who have cancer like my grandma is what I wanted to do,” Huff said.
Huff is one the 18 students who is participating in a new summer program at the University of Saint Joseph aimed to help high school juniors and seniors, particularly those from economically challenged households, to learn more about nursing.
“I notice with being in this program, this is really what I want to do. I really want to do nursing,” Huff said.
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The group of students participating in the week-long program have learned a wide range of nursing skills, including how to feed patients through a feeding tube, how to communicate with patients who speak a different language and much more.
“Yesterday I just got CPR certified, that's really big to me because it will look really good on my resume. Being in a simulation lab has given me that experience on how I will be working with patients,” Huff said.
The launch of this new program comes at a time where the demand for nurses has significantly increased.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 500,000 employees have left the healthcare field, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
But there is good news at the university - nursing applications are up 22% this fall compared to last year.
“I think COVID has done a lot for nursing and has really brought a light to the general public of the importance of nursing,” said Director of Undergraduate Nursing Program Denise Puia.
University officials said students who participated in the summer program also attended college application workshops.
“When to start, what you need to do, what things you should have done ahead of time because not all students are familiar with the process,” Puia said.
The university was able to fund the program through a $10,000 grant from Berkshire Bank.
“We were able to provide them with breakfast, lunch. We have been able to get them certified in CPR and stop the bleed with no cost to students,” Puia said.