Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

NHS Class Founds New Nursing Corps

Georgetown plans to establish the country’s first nurse-focused professional corps funded by AmeriCorps, thanks to a $20,000 federal grant issued to the School of Nursing and Health Studies last month.

The grant will allow 20 baccalaureate-prepared, professional registered nurses to participate in a program called Nurses for America, where they will receive two weeks of immersion training in community-based nursing at Georgetown in July 2006, after which these nurses will complete at least two years of nursing service within an area of identified need, according to Barbara Aranda-Naranjo, who applied for the AmeriCorps grant.

Aranda-Naranjo, an associate professor in the School of Nursing and Health Studies, worked with Rev. Tim Godfrey, S.J., director of Campus Ministry, and NHS faculty to form partnerships with several health care groups nationwide.

Georgetown plans to place nurses in federally funded community health centers, public health departments and faith-based and neighborhood clinics after training, Aranda-Naranjo said.

“Partnering with the community is the best way to approach complex problems in healthcare systems,” she said. “The university has knowledge, but this knowledge must be put in the context of the community’s experience to gain the sensitivity needed to make a program effective in the community.”

Nurses who complete two years of salaried work at these sites are eligible to receive an additional $4,725 toward education expenses from AmeriCorp. The grant will be renewed over three years to train a total of 60 nurses.

Aranda-Naranjo said she applied for the grant from AmeriCorps after developing Nurses for America through discussion with undergraduate nursing students in her class, Care for Vulnerable Populations, last semester.

Aranda-Naranjo said she challenged students to identify barriers to working in community health clinics after realizing that many students choose to work in hospitals after graduation, rather than work in local clinics in areas lacking adequate health care.

Jean Farley, NHS clinical instructor and assistant director of Nurses for America, said that the program addresses the need for continued support and training of recent nursing graduates.

Godfrey echoed Aranda-Naranjo’s emphasis on forming stronger connections to the communities in which trained nurses will work. Partners at the sites will collaborate with Nurses for America directors at Georgetown throughout the program, including in the formulation of the training curriculum, he said.

Godfrey also said that clinics in areas the group plans to send nurses are understaffed and can only provide limited health care services. He said he hopes that Nurses for America will help clinics provide improved services in these high-risk areas.

Godfrey also related Nurses for America’s work to Georgetown’s broader academic mission.

“There is so much going on at Georgetown,” he said. “This is one more way to develop our goal of being men and women for others.”

Farley also appealed to the university’s guiding mission.

The NHS’ mission is “to improve the health and well-being of all people, with emphasis on `all,’ because there are significant healthcare inequities,” she said. “We want our graduates to come away understanding that they have a role in making healthcare more accessible to those at high risk because their health needs are not being met due to factors such as their age, income level or cultural group.”

Deborah Hipkins (NHS ’06) said she plans to apply to Nurses for America because she wants to “help those who do not have access to good healthcare advice, don’t have resources and don’t know how to maneuver through the system.”

After working for 10 years as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration, Hipkins describes herself as a problem solver who entered nursing school planning to focus on preventive medicine within a community of need.

“I am excited because after all the hard work I will be able to go right where I belong,” she said. “There are so many people out there with needs not impossible to meet; they just need the basics.”

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