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School of Nursing hosts free summer programs, creates $200K scholarship pool for West Virginia nursing students

ISSUED: 24 June 2022

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Proving its commitment to addressing the shortage of nurses in West Virginia, Shepherd University invites those interested in pursuing a career in nursing to come to campus this summer for a free session, “The Future of You: Be a Nurse.”

These sessions enable future nurses to interact with Shepherd School of Nursing faculty, learn life-saving techniques using the School’s state-of-the-art technology, and experience the competitive advantages of a Shepherd nursing education.

“Our graduates are known as competent, caring, and compassionate nurses,” said Dr. Sharon Mailey, dean of the College of Nursing, Education, and Health Sciences. “We’re also exceedingly proud of our 93 percent RN licensure pass rate and our high job placement rates.”

Future nurses from West Virginia who choose to study at Shepherd may also benefit from financial support and a new computer supplied by the School, thanks to $998,709 in grant money received through West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s Nursing Workforce Expansion Program to fund its “The Future of You: Be a Nurse” program.

“We chose to set aside $200,000 to create a scholarship pool for nursing students from West Virginia starting their studies in Fall 2022 and to purchase Microsoft Surface Pro computers for select students,” Mailey said. “In addition, we utilized grant monies to upgrade learning resources for our students, including high-definition simulation equipment and high-tech classroom upgrades.”

According to Dr. Lisa Zerull, assistant professor of nursing and summer program coordinator, the first “Future of You: Be a Nurse” program was held on June 2 and featured sessions that allowed future nurses to help identify the cause of an illness and steps to treat it, using a program team comprised of faculty from biology, math, and nursing.

“Our program connects how science and math inform the nurse,” said Dr. Laureen Donovan, assistant professor of nursing. “Part of our goal is to teach essential skills, of course, but to break down the barriers and the fears that sometime come with science and math.”

For example, in the biology lab, these future nurses identified microorganisms such as Salmonella, Clostridium difficile, and COVID-19 through inverted fluorescence microscopes. Dr. Sara Reynolds, assistant professor of biology, described the various methods scientists use to help a healthcare team diagnose illnesses in patients such as bacteria shape, staining, and growth on culture media.

“The best nurses possess a scientist’s keen spirit of inquiry,” Reynolds said. “Why is the patient ill? What is causing the illness? We can identify microorganisms through a process of elimination, and it is extremely rewarding.”

In the nursing skills lab, future nurses were introduced to medication dosage calculations.

“The nurse has to correctly dose the patient. Applying math principles, the nurse identifies what is ordered by the healthcare practitioner and the medication on hand,” said Dr. Francoise Nelles, coordinator of mathematics. “If the practitioner orders 40 milligrams of medication and what is available from the pharmacy is 20 mg tablets, the nurse works the math to administer the proper dosage of two tablets equaling 40 mg.”

In small groups, future nurses identified the four chambers of the heart and learned about that organ’s role in circulation and blood flow; practiced helping a choking victim with the aid of a Heimlich vest; and used stethoscopes, which participants took home with them, to listen to heart and lung sounds using a simulation torso called a SimSam.

“Most students learn best by simulating real-life experiences in a lab setting,” said Emeritus Professor of Nursing Dr. Charlotte Anderson. “The West Virginia grant supplemented our skills lab equipment to provide even better experiences for our nursing students—a real win-win to promote nurses and our profession at Shepherd University.”

Four more “The Future of You: Be a Nurse” workshops are planned for this summer: June 28 and 29 and July 12 and 14. For more information or to register for an upcoming program, visit The FUTURE of YOU: Be a Nurse! webpage.

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