MIAMI - Nicklaus Children's Hospital is collaborating with Miami-Dade College (MDC) to offer a nurse scholarship program that provides financial assistance, while also supporting student engagement through supervised patient care experiences that can highlight the appeal and value of the nursing profession.
"What sets our program apart is the opportunity for students to serve as patient care interns, under the supervision of experienced nurses, while still at the associate degree level. It is our hope that participants see the impact that they can make as nurses and that this inspires them to pursue their education to completion," said Shannon Odell, Nicklaus Children's vice president and chief nursing officer.
Launched in the spring of 2023, the Nurse Scholars Program - sponsored by Nicklaus Children's - is offered to students accepted to MDC's associate of science in nursing program. Scholarships cover the cost of tuition, fees, books and other supplies for accepted students.
The Nurse Scholars Program includes four semesters of classroom and student clinical experiences. The students also have the opportunity to be a part of the hospital's Student Nurse Intern Program, a paid employment opportunity through which the students are hired as care assistants for 12 hours per pay period or more, depending on preference. In addition, pediatric and practicum training experiences are completed at Nicklaus Children's Hospital.
Student nurse interns take an active role in patient care by supporting the registered nurses with tasks related to activities of daily living, obtaining vital signs or other duties as delegated by the supervising nurse.
"Nurses are essential to our mission of providing amazing patient care to the children and families we serve," said Odell. "It's an honor for us to assist future nursing colleagues as they pursue their training and prepare for careers in this amazing profession."
After completion of the program, eligible graduates may be offered employment in Nicklaus Children's Horizon Nurse Residency Program and would fulfill a two-year commitment to the organization. The graduating nurse scholar is required to complete a bachelor of science in nursing program after completion of the associate's degree.
"Nicklaus Children's Nurse Scholars Program is helping me to fulfill my dream of becoming a pediatric nurse," said participant Cristiane Avila. "The scholarship allows me to devote myself to learning without the financial burden. As a nurse scholar, I have access to a wealth of resources and support that will help me grow both personally and professionally."
The Nursing Scholars Program supports Nicklaus Children's "pipeline" approach to hiring. Many Nicklaus Children's employees join the organization after having previous experiences with the hospital through its robust volunteer, internship and clinical training programs. Many high school and college-age volunteers later become employees. In 2022, 668 individuals who created profiles in the health system's recruitment platform indicated they previously had been volunteers of the hospital.
"As our volunteer and training programs show, young people who are exposed to our culture through volunteer work or education later become interested in being part of our health system family," said Kara Marante, vice president and chief people officer. "We are fortunate that our culture and commitment to serving children resonates with so many. This definitely contributes to our much lower than average nurse vacancy and turnover rates," she said.
For more information, visit www.nicklauschildrens.org/NurseScholars