First-year nursing student face the formidable subject matter of pharmacology and fundamentals while second-year students focus on mental health, pediatrics, and obstetrics. The summer days’ relaxing hours and free time becomes little more than a memory.
The newly created Nurses Using Resources for Success (NURS) Center of Northeast State’s Nursing division now gives students refuge from high-stress curriculum and offers a place to learn and relax. The center’s acronym, NURS, was taken from the nursing course’s prefix, which is also NURS. Established to provide the students a dedicated area to study while also building peer-to-peer relationships, the center is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and staffed by the Nursing faculty and the dean.
“We felt the students needed an environment where they could study with peers and get assistance from nursing faculty and myself,” said Dr. Melessia Webb, dean of Nursing. “We also wanted the student have a place to hang out and have someone to talk to about class or anything – connecting classroom with their peers.”
Northeast State Nursing hosted an open house this month at the NURS Center in the Regional Center for Health Related Professions in Kingsport. The resource center centralizes academic reference materials while creating a much-needed sanctuary for nursing students. Along with the academic resources available to students, the center features several nooks with comfy chairs, tables, and wall art giving a relaxed, homey feel. The center serves as an ideal decompression chamber not only for study, but also a welcoming environment where students can find emotional support and physical relaxation.
“We want students to know we care about them,” said Laura Jones, nursing instructor. “This is a demanding program. The NURS Center allows faculty to stay engaged, academically and personally, with students so they are not getting frustrated.”
As an extension to the NURS Center, the division is also hosting monthly recognition parties, called CELEBRATE monthly. These events were established as a method to continue encouraging the nursing students. CELEBRATE (Celebrating Educational Learning Endeavors By Recognizing Achievements Toward Excellence) focuses on positive outcomes or progressive milestones that have been achieved by nursing students, faculty, or administration within the division. The dean of Nursing and faculty recognized the importance of developing the NURS Center as well as the monthly CELEBRATE events in that all monetary needs have been and will continue to be provided by the faculty and dean.
The center is stocked with hardcover reference material. The College’s information technology department installed a computer bank providing online reference and search capability. The center serves as an extension for collaborative learning and building a support network between students that faculty members strongly encourage for each nursing class.
“We may have classes in the building, but we are spending a lot of time here in the resource center,” said Summer Manganaro, a first-year nursing student. “We know we’re all in this as a family, and it has been a blessing to me.”
At least one faculty member staffs the center at all times to assist students. All Nursing faculty members – including Dr. Webb – dedicate four hours to the resource center each week with many going beyond that.
“We may spend 12 hours a day in this building for classes and research,” said Denver Moses, also a first-year student. “The center gives us that quiet, comfortable space where you can relax and fellowship with your peers.”
The program accepted more than 70 first-year nursing students this fall. They join more than 30 second-year students scheduled to graduate with their associate of applied science degrees next spring. While the first- and second-year classes are operating on different curriculum schedules, the second-year students help mentor the newbies.
“We also have the opportunity to talk to the second-year nursing students,” said Heather Clinton, a first-year student. “They are a big help to us with guidance and how to manage our time.”
Like many students majoring in a health-related professions program, Manganaro and Clinton have felt health-related issues hit close to home. Helping her young son battle a severe chronic illness moved Manganaro to join the nursing ranks. Since age 12 Clinton helped care for her grandmother. Both said the move into caring for others felt like a natural progression for them.
Webb developed the Resource Center concept by applying the notion of connectivity and learning for students. The division plans to apply for a federal grant to fund an additional full-time nursing faculty member to staff the center throughout the day.
“We wanted to have one environment that was not all about academics,” said Webb. “The faculty has truly made this project work.”