Powerful Partnership

Students from nearby universities segue into the school's B.S.N. program

Educational Partnership B.S.N. students include (back row) Valerie Cadet and Teneshia McCalla; (middle row) Triola Erskin and Andrea Tarasiuk; (standing, left) Ester Laforet; (standing, right, back to front): Ciana Ulysse and Shalonna Battle; (front row) Annabelle Larancul and Mariam Doale.

Partnerships are a beautiful thing- especially when they enable more aspiring nurses to reach their goals. That's precisely what the University of Miami's Educational Partnership B.S.N. program is designed to do. Made possible by an endowment from Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Florida, Inc., and North Dade Medical Foundation, the program enables students from St. Thomas University and Florida Memorial University to spend the final two years of their undergraduate studies at UM, where they earn a baccalaureate nursing degree. Students from FMU are also enrolled in the institution's honors biology program, which allows them to earn a biology degree.

Teneshia McCalla, a member of the program's newest class, says the experience has been overwhelmingly positive: "I've met all kinds of new people, and my professors have really gone out of their way to help me."

"The professors and staff, the new building, the simulators-it's all wonderful," agrees junior Andrea Tarasiuk. "I feel very honored to be here-there's the sense that everyone is here to help us succeed."

"The program allows all three institutions to leverage resources and help to alleviate the nursing shortage," says Deborah Paris, director of student services for the School of Nursing and Health Studies. "Florida Memorial and St. Thomas both have diverse student populations, many of whom come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. This program opens up a new world of opportunities for them.

"Many of the students in the program have to work in addition to taking a full load of challenging courses that include long clinical hours," Paris adds. "They're amazingly dedicated and determined."

"It's exciting to be given a chance to show what you can do," says McCalla. "I'm energized by the different options that will be available to us, and I look forward to exploring them."

The three-year-old program's first student cohort will graduate this spring, and Paris says she hopes their numbers will grow. "This is our largest and strongest class so far," she says. "We're always seeking additional funding and working hard with partners to enhance and expand the applicant pool." That, in turn, will bring more qualified, eager new nurses into the health care system that needs them so urgently.

"Loyalty, caring, loving what you do," says McCalla about what makes a good nurse. "It's all about helping someone move on to another day."

As her classmate Ciana Ulysse sums it up, "The program is extremely difficult at times-but if nursing is your passion, it's definitely worth the sacrifice."