New program aims to attract nursing students amid staff shortages – NBC Connecticut


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 with cancer like my grandmother is what I wanted to do,” Huff said.

Huff is one of 18 students participating in a new summer program at Saint Joseph University aimed at helping high school juniors and seniors, especially those from economically challenged households, learn more about nursing care.

“I notice being in this program is really what I want to do. I really want to do nursing,” Huff said.

The group of students participating in the week-long program 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.

“I just got certified in CPR yesterday, it’s very important to me because it will look great on my CV. Being in a simulation lab gave me that experience of how I’m going to work with patients,” Huff said.

The launch of this new program comes at a time when the demand for nurses has increased significantly.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 500,000 employees have left the healthcare field, according to the US Department of Labor.

But there’s 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 really shines a light on the importance of nursing for the general public,” said Denise Puia, director of the undergraduate nursing program.

University officials said students who participated in the summer program also attended college application workshops.

“When to start, what you need to do, what you should have done in advance because not all students know the process,” Puia said.

The university was able to fund the program with a $10,000 grant from Berkshire Bank.

“We were able to provide them with breakfast, lunch. We were able to get them certified in CPR and stop the bleeding at no cost to the students,” Puia said.


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