PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

June 22, 2013

The Nightingale Experience

High schoolers get introduction to nursing

PORT ARTHUR — Blood, burns and birth are just a few issues that a nursing student must contend with upon entering their field.

Faiza Maredia can’t wait.

“They showed us a foot with third-degree burns,” said 17-year-old Maredia. “Everybody was grossed out, but I was totally OK with it.”

A strong stomach came in handy for Maredia sooner than she thought. The Nederland High School senior was one of 32 students from 15 Southeast Texas high schools who visited Christus Hospital-St. Mary, 3600 Gates Blvd., on Thursday as part of the Nightingale Experience.

Maredia has known nursing was the profession for her since she was in seventh grade, and this program has only fueled that fire.

“I love the environment here,” Maredia said. “It’s really calm — not like on TV.”

The Nightingale Experience, now in its 11th year, is the collaborative effort of Lamar University’s JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing and Christus Hospitals St. Elizabeth and St. Mary to introduce local high school students to job opportunities in the nursing profession.

Hale said the program attracts between 30 and 35 students every year, usually from local schools such as Port Arthur Memorial and Port Neches-Groves. Occasionally, however, students from as far as Houston or San Antonio will hear of the Nightingale Experience.

“We try to introduce them to this during their sophomore year, because we want them to take courses to prepare for nursing,” Hale said. “We want to make sure they all have a really good experience.”

Evidence indicates that has been the case. Hale said that 75 percent of Nightingale participants pursue a nursing degree in college, while 95 percent major in a health care-related field.

Jenny Hussey, director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at St. Mary, said that several of her employees are Nightingale veterans.

“We’ve seen return from it, so it’s rewarding in that way,” Hussey said.

During the 10 years that she has worked at St. Mary, Hussey has watched the program evolve with the technological advancement of the students. She added that they provide the student with the perfect blend of intensity and science. The students participate in simulations, such as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) tending to the victim of an automobile accident, but they also have their knowledge of X-rays and ultrasounds tested by the radiology department.

“We get the adrenaline rush, and we also challenge them with the thought process,” Hussey said. “It’s an important program, and I love being a part of it.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA

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