How to Study in Nursing School

How to Study in Nursing School

If there’s one question that I frequently get asked by nursing students, it is how to properly study to pass nursing tests and exams and make it out of nursing school alive. During nursing school I tried different ways to study and it took trial and error for me to finally find what worked best for me. Here are my top study habits to help you get those A’s and tackle nursing school exams.

Best Study Habits:

1. What type of learner are you?

First and foremost, determine what your learning style is. It’s imperative that you’re honest with yourself about the type of learner you are to get the best results from studying. Learning styles typically fall into 3 categories: visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learning. Each learning style retains and processes information differently. So before signing up to be a part of that study group session find out if it works for you. Some students are able to study in only quiet places while others can concentrate around loud noise. Here are two educational websites that offer free learning assessments to help you determine which learning style fits you the best: https://www.how-to-study.com/learning-style-assessment/ and http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles-quiz.shtml

2. Be organized.

Before you begin studying collect all of your essential tools such as notecards, pens, highlighters, coffee, and wine (just kidding). There’s nothing worse than being in your groove when studying and you realize that you’ve forgotten your favorite pen or highlighter. Have a plan of what you want to study for each session and a realistic expectation of how long it will take to go over the material. Give yourself adequate time to review each subject and include break times for each study session. According to a study recently done by Microsoft the average adult has a concentration span of only 8 seconds. That is less than that of a goldfish! So studying straight for hours without any breaks will not help you retain the information more.

3. Set goals.

You had a goal to get into nursing school and you have a goal to graduate, so why not set goals when studying? If there is a particular topic that is a weak area for you take out your planner and set a goal for when you want to fully master that material. Create a study outline with exact dates, time and even the location for when you will study each material. This will help you avoid having to cram for exams. Your class syllabus should have dates for when exams and texts will take place so don’t wait until you’re two weeks into the class to begin setting your study goals.

4. Less is more.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when studying in nursing school is using too many books or resources at once. Determine which resources are necessary for each exam and study that content. Professors typically outline which books or resources are appropriate to use for each course so use that as a guide on what to use when studying. If not you may run the risk of studying information that contradicts what you were taught in the classroom. Seek guidance from your professor when choosing to use other resources aside from what is required.

Nursing school is probably one of the most stressful and rewarding things you’ll ever go through in life. Help make things easier for yourself with the four study tactics I listed above to help you prepare for every test and ace those exams. Always remain positive and remember to relax before an exam. You’ve got this!

Stay connected with other nurses just like you! Facebook: Fierce Expression and Instagram: @fierceexpression.

Goal Setting: Top five ways to make sure you are accomplishing your goals

Goal Setting: Top five ways to make sure you are accomplishing your goals

The beginning of a new year is a common time to reflect on the previous year, and deciding what goals you would like to accomplish in the next 365 days.  This is not a time to be shy about the things that you want in your life.  Be bold, intentional, and brave when setting goals for yourself.  The sky is not the limit; it is simply the view.  Although we tend to start out highly motivated and dedicated to the goals that we have set, we have got be honest with ourselves and realize that often that ambition can fade, and nothing gets accomplished!  I want to share with you five methods I utilize to keep myself grounded, motivated, and a realizer of my goals.

Find Yourself a GOAL MATE

What is a GOAL MATE?  A goal mate is someone that you have a great connection with that supports, motivates, encourages, and enables you to manifest all of your wildest dreams.  It does not matter how far-fetched they may seem, your GOAL MATE will not only hold you accountable but encourage you to jump in and get dirty neck first.  Whether you succeed or fail at accomplishing a goal they are there to pick you up if you break your neck for real (just kidding), brush you off, and send you on your awesomely merry way to attempt your next goal.  Keep in mind, that in order to be a good GOAL MATE, you need to reciprocate the same energy and tenacity that your partner(s) give to you.  It’s important to keep each other focused, interested, and motivated.

Make Clear, Objective, and Achievable goals

Be clear and intentional about the goals you are setting.  It is also important to be specific.  Think about where you want to be with your finances, health, career, and love life.  Self-love included. Be realistic with your timeline and remember that there are only 12 months in a year, but that is a valuable time that can be leveraged to generate a better you.

Make a Vision Board or Host a Vision Board Party

This is an annual tradition of mine.  Each year I invite my GOAL MATES, friends, neighbors, co-workers over to craft vision boards.  This is inexpensive and so much fun.  All you need is magazines, scissors, glue, posters, your imaginations, and perhaps some wine!

Set Mall Quarterly Milestones

Hold yourself accountable.  Think about where you want your progress to be after 3,6, and 9 months.  I like to review my goals monthly.  This keeps it relevant in my mind.  You should review your goals quarterly at a minimum.  Think about what is working for you, and what you can switch up.

Look at It

If you do not see your goals periodically, or place your vision board somewhere that you can see it every day. I have my goals on my vision board, iPhone, iPad, and posted in my locker at work.  Don’t forget the plans you have made for yourself.  Utilize these tools, go forth, and prosper!

Jazmin Nicole is a military officer, obstetrics nurse, advisory board member of Black Nurses Rock Inc., and the founder/CEO of Jazmin Nicole & Co.

www.iamjazminnicole.com

For more posts/blogs like this follow me on twitter (@jazminweb), Instagram (@therealjazminnicole_, and Facebook (Jazmin Nicole and Co.)

 

Standing Up for the Right to Be Ourselves

Standing Up for the Right to Be Ourselves

How do gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) nurses handle the issue of their sexuality in the nursing workplace? Are they “out” at work? Do they encounter discrimination from patients and co-workers, and if so, how do they deal with it? Is their sexuality an asset, a liability or a non-issue when it comes to being a nurse?

As a gay man who is also a nurse, I am very interested in exploring these issues. I recently spent some time searching Internet nursing forums and came across a very enlightening thread. I’d like to share some of the posts with you.

The discussion began with a gay nurse asking other gay nurses for advice on how they deal with questions from patients about their home life, such as “Are you married?” The conversation quickly turned to more general comments on the broader issues of acceptance of gays in the workplace and being “out” versus “in the closet” at work.

From a nursing assistant and Army medic: “There is NOTHING wrong with keeping your personal life (whatever that may be) COMPLETELY apart from your work life. That’s what professionals do.”

A nurse in Texas responds: “That’s not the real world, professional or not. Keeping my personal life completely apart from my work life is what I attempted to do many times over, but. . .it only leads to more questions, more probing and just as much if not more gossip and stories about you. Not that gossip in the workplace should rule how you react to it, but in my experience it just ends up making things worse when you act vague and mysterious about your personal life.

“For me, it has always been a struggle between [how to deal with] the ‘if you’re gay I don’t want to know about it’ straight co-workers and the ‘inquiring minds want to know’ types,” the post continues. “For the latter types, fine. Here’s my oh-so-interesting gay life. Pretty ordinary and not much different from yours. For the former types, I’ve always found it interesting that the same nurses who fall into the ‘keep your private life to yourself’ category tend to be the same ones who constantly talk about their [spouses] and children at the nurses’ station all day.

“Can all of you [nurses] out there who insist that your private lives are completely separate from your professional lives honestly say that you never make any mention of a spouse or love interest to your co-workers, whether voluntarily or [in response to] questions from your peers? [Or that you] only discuss professional work-related issues with them?”

Another poster argues, “When I am at work, I am a nurse. I leave my personal life where it belongs— at home, not work! I would never engage in discussions about my personal life at work, because I am there solely to ensure that my patients receive the best quality care.”

A critical care nurse in Texas comments at some length: “I disagree that you can work in such close environs and not share some personal information with your co-workers. Establishing professional relationships requires some personal disclosure. [People] don’t live in compartments— professional here, personal there. If you withhold all [information about] personal relationships, you will have a problem with being considered aloof or cold—and that would affect your professional relationships.

“It has been my experience that most nurses’ stations are literal Peyton Places of personal information. I couldn’t see how you could hide who you are for long. The effort to do so would seem to me to just cause too much dang stress—. “Will some people be comfortable with [your sexuality] and others uncomfortable? Of course. You have to read each individual and [then decide to give or not give] details of your life based on [how accepting you think that person would be]. That’s not the same as saying that you should remain ‘in the closet’ to co-workers who would have a problem [with your being gay], but you can certainly de-emphasize your conversation [about that aspect of your life when you’re working with them]. The bottom line is: as co-workers we have to work together, which means some give and take on lots of issues, including this one.

“I would think that [in this day and age] most of your co-workers would have come to terms with this issue anyway. It is my experience that there is either a higher percentage of gays in nursing [than in other professions] or at the least, a higher percentage of gay nurses who are willing to be ‘out’ about it. As such, most of your co-workers should have had ample opportunity to ‘get [used to] it.’

“As far as patients go, your relationship with them is far more temporary. I would think it would be, if not appropriate, then certainly more convenient to not bring it up and only disclose that information rarely, [especially if you are working with older patients]. The older generation is much more fixed in their [biases and stereotypes], and a few days’ exposure to a challenge of those stereotypes is not going to change them, [especially if] they are sick enough to be in the hospital or a family member who is stressed over their loved one being in the hospital.”

What an interesting and revealing conversation! These posts shed light on some important issues that are all too often overlooked in discussions about the need for more diversity in the nursing workforce. Above all, they show that while GLBT nurses face many of the same biases and barriers to acceptance as racial and ethnic minority nurses, we must also deal with a whole set of other challenges that are uniquely our own.

To Thine Own Self Be True

As a gay RN who is now in his 40s, I have seen the incidence of homophobia in the workplace decline quite a bit in recent years. Of course, that’s partly because I moved from Georgia to more liberal California to escape some of that. But all in all, it’s a more accepting workplace.

Like other groups who are perceived as “different” by the majority population, GLBT people have had a tough time as a minority in society. I remember when I was in my 20s and saw my first gay bashing. Then, when [21-year-old gay college student] Matthew Shepard was beaten to death [in Wyoming in 1998], it put homophobia in the national spotlight.

Since then, many states and organizations have taken action to protect GLBT people from various kinds of discrimination, including employment discrimination. While it’s still legal in 26 states to fire someone because of his or her sexuality, another 25 states have laws on the books protecting homosexuals from workplace discrimination. Some of the gay participants in the abovementioned Internet nursing forum say they rely on their hospital’s code of ethics to protect them from harassment in the workplace.

As for myself, I’m out at work. I have a partner of six years and I find (some) men attractive. That’s who I am. I have a sexuality and while it’s not really part of my work life, I am not going to hide it in fear. It is just as beautiful and worthy of respect as any other part of me or anyone else. We owe it to the next generation to leave this world in better shape than we found it. I do that, in part, by fighting homophobia and promoting tolerance. I perform my nursing care in a nonjudgmental fashion and I don’t expect to be judged if my sexuality is revealed in casual conversation.

Nursing is, by its nature, a very personal profession. We perform embarrassing and sometimes painful procedures on people, and so our patients sometimes want to know a little bit about us. Accepting who I am allows me to better accept other human beings for who they are. Some people are in a mindset that requires some personal growth before they can be accepting of gays— or blacks, or Indians or any other minority. It’s not for me to shelter them from my sexuality and stunt their growth nor to judge them. I owe it to the world to be a good person and a worthy nurse who, among many other things, is an unashamed homosexual. I don’t accept intolerance and I point it out when I see it.

Based on those Internet forum posts, it would appear that the main concerns on the minds of today’s GLBT nurses are about disclosure— whether to hide or downplay their sexuality at work or to stand up for their right to be accepted as who they are. That this is still an issue clearly shows how laws against equality for gay people—such as the recent Proposition 8 in California, which took away same-sex couples’ right to marry—can be passed in this modern age. If gays are afraid to stand up and be counted in the workplace, then people who are on the fence regarding GLBT rights will never know who we are and what great people we are. They will never know what positive role models we are as nurses and as minorities fighting for acceptance in society. And most importantly, they will never know about the unique qualities, knowledge and insights we bring to the nursing profession and to patient care.

We bring compassion and a special advocacy for the underdog. We have known discrimination and the fear that comes from being different. GLBT nurses turn this into an ability to strive harder to meet the needs of minority patients and the underserved. We know what it’s like to have to work twice as hard as other people to reach the same goals. We cherish the things it takes us more effort to achieve, such as marriage, children and equal rights under the law. We respect people for who they are as individuals, regardless of skin color, gender, age or affliction. That’s what GLBT nurses bring to the nursing workplace. Now it’s time for us to step up and be recognized for those contributions. I urge all GLBT nurses to bring one more very important thing to the work we do: the willingness to stand up and be proud of who we are.

An Open Letter to Historically Black Nursing Schools

An Open Letter to Historically Black Nursing Schools

Dear Deans of Nursing:

A sense of urgency is upon us. Now, certainly not later, is the time to seriously consider starting a nurse anesthesia education program at your institution. Consider this fact: Of the 106 nurse anesthesia master’s degree programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that are currently accredited by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) Council on Accreditation (COA), not one is located at a historically black college or university (HBCU). This means that any BSN graduates from your fine institutions who are seriously interested in pursuing a rewarding advanced practice career in nurse anesthesia will have to apply elsewhere.

Why now rather than later? The COA has drafted a position stating that it will not consider accrediting any new master’s degree nurse anesthesia programs after 2015. This is because all accredited nurse anesthesia programs will be converted into doctoral programs by 2025.

Here’s another fact to consider: There are currently 37,000 certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) in the United States—yet there is less than 6% minority representation in the nurse anesthesia profession. How are we going to properly introduce and prepare racially and culturally diverse nursing students to enter the nurse anesthesia field? When will the minority nurse leaders who serve as administrators and educators in HBCU nursing schools sit down to have a serious dialogue about how adding a nurse anesthesia program can benefit both their students and their institutions?

Today’s historically black schools of nursing have moved proudly into the new millennium, adding state-of-the-art buildings, “smart rooms,” simulation labs and other educational innovations. Many of you are currently in the process of adding graduate degree programs, or expanding existing graduate-level offerings. What better time to embark on adding a nurse anesthesia program as a viable option for your BSN graduates, as well as other talented students from across the country who are interested in this growing specialty? Which HBCU school of nursing will one day be recognized as one of the nation’s premier nurse anesthesia programs, widely respected as a leading source of scholars, practitioners and innovators in the CRNA profession?

The time is now and the decision is yours.

Directing Our Destiny

Directing Our Destiny

For more than 60 years, nurses from the Philippines have been immigrating to the U.S. in search of higher-paying jobs, opportunities for professional growth and the hope of a better life for themselves and their children. In the late 1940s and again in the 1960s, two successive generations of Filipino nurses migrated here in large numbers. While many of the nurses in this second wave of migration succeeded in finding the American dream, others encountered obstacles of discrimination, economic hardship and exploitation, with no one they could turn to for help.

But today, Philippine immigrant nurses do have a resource they can turn to: the Philippine Nurses Association of America (PNAA), an organization that provides a strong, unified voice to support and advocate for all Filipino nurses in their quest to provide compassionate nursing care in the United States.

This past July, PNAA celebrated its 30th anniversary at its 2009 national convention, held in Baltimore. In her keynote address, Clarita Miraflor, PhD, RN, CHCQM, the PNAA’s first president, recalled the association’s beginnings, when local groups of Filipino American nurses representing New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Illinois and California met in New Jersey at the invitation of Phoebe Andes, MA, RN, to form a national organization, then known as the National Federation of Philippine Nurses Associations in the U.S.

Since its inception on April 21, 1979, PNAA has grown to encompass four U.S. regions, 37 local chapters, 13 subchapters and more than 4,600 members. It has become a charter member of the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA). The PNAA Foundation, the association’s non-profit charitable arm founded in 2002 by Andes, a PNAA past president, provides opportunities for philanthropy to support the professional advancement of Philippine American nurses and the promotion of health through nursing care, education, scholarships, management and research.

Taking a Stand

The need for an organization like PNAA arose from a variety of problems immigrant nurses from the Philippines were experiencing in the 1970s, Miraflor explains. These included exploitation by recruitment agencies and employers; high failure rates on RN licensing exams due to insufficient test-taking skills; discriminatory hiring practices; unfair staff scheduling that placed Filipino nurses on evening or night shifts; difficulties in adapting to American culture, and inability to communicate effectively with employers and patients.

President elect Reynaldo Rivera, DNP, RN, CCRN, NEA-BC, ANPPresident-elect Reynaldo Rivera, DNP, RN, CCRN, NEA-BC, ANP

“The price of silence is high,” says Miraflor. “[As Filipino nurses ourselves,] we couldn’t turn our heads the other way. We had to direct our destiny.”

One particularly troubling incident that directly contributed to the formation of PNAA was the legal case involving two Philippine nurses, Leonora Perez and Filipinas Narciso, who were accused of causing the deaths of 11 patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., in 1976, says PNAA past president Remedios Solarte, MSN, NP, RN.

Despite the lack of evidence against Narciso and Perez, the backdrop of racial tension in the 1970s due to the increased numbers of Asian immigrants to the U.S. set the stage for the nurses’ conviction. Although the verdict was eventually overturned, the nurses suffered adverse affects from the lengthy trial. The case made international news that bonded Filipino nurses and their countrymen.

Since then, PNAA has continually been in the forefront of advocacy efforts to ensure fair treatment for Filipino nurses in the U.S. In 1989, for example, the association rallied around the dilemma of Philippine nurses who faced deportation because they were nearing the expiration of their five-year H-1 visa limit. Under the leadership of its fifth president, the late Filipinas Lowery, MA, RN, CNOR, the PNAA and its chapters engaged in several months of concerted lobbying, in collaboration with other national nursing and hospital organizations. As a result of this campaign, the federal government enacted the Nursing Relief Act of 1989, which provided for the adjustment to permanent resident status for H-1 RNs who entered the U.S. prior to September 1, 1989.

“PNAA had to articulate the vital role of Filipino nurses in alleviating the acute nursing shortage and the [negative] impact their departure would have had on health care [in America],” says Solarte, who is writing the association’s history with two other founders, past president Lolita Compas, MA, RN, CEN, and past executive director Ampy de la Paz, MS, RN.

Presidential Visions

Current PNAA president Leo-Felix Jurado, PhD(c), NE-BC, APRN, credits the association’s founders as visionaries who have made PNAA the strong and successful organization it is today. “[Over the years,] 14 presidents have left a legacy that impacts PNAA as it continues to champion the welfare and advancement of Filipino American nurses in the U.S.,” he says.

For example, Solarte’s theme as sixth PNAA president (1990-1992) was “Visibility, Viability and Vitality.” “In a spirit of teamwork, we advanced the organization by making it visible to nurses in the U.S. and the Philippines, by strengthening its viability through increasing membership, and renewing its vitality [by establishing our] first Nurse Excellence Awards program for members,” she explains.

Jurado’s own presidential theme, “the PRISM of PNAA,” is based on his conceptualization of a framework that the national organization, its chapters and subchapters can use to work in unison for the association’s advancement. PRISM, he says, is an acronym that stands for:

  • Professional linkages with likeminded organizations and agencies.
  • Regulatory and legislative agenda initiation and support of those favorable to PNAA’s goals and objectives.
  • Interagency collaboration with the communities PNAA serves in the U.S. and abroad, and with other ethnic associations.
  • Service and program development that drives PNAA’s membership growth.
  • Managing organizational resources.

Meanwhile, president-elect Reynaldo Rivera, DNP, RN, CCRN, NEA-BC, ANP, who takes office in 2010, is already constructing the framework for his presidency, “Engage and Make a Difference.” Building on a strong leadership foundation, he envisions three pillars—membership development, community partnerships, and financial and operational strength— that will enable members to become role models and make a difference in the lives of those they serve.

“We are studying what makes nurses engage and have that passion for nursing,” Rivera says. “We plan to invite RNs to join [the association] and [we hope to] inspire and motivate them to continue their journey with the PNAA.”

On the World Stage

As PNAA has grown in size and scope, it has also emerged as an internationally recognized voice. One of the association’s most exciting international achievements was its work with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), along with a coalition of other U.S. and Philippine organizations, to establish the firstever NCLEX® testing center in the Philippines. Following five years of advocacy efforts spanning the three PNAA presidential administrations of Anunciacion (Seny) Lipat, MA, RN (2002-2004), Mila Velasquez, MN, RN, CS, ANP, CCRN (2004-2006) and Rosario-May Mayor, MSN, RN (2006- 2008), and led by the dedicated work of PNAA NCLEX Task Force chair Filipinas Lowery, the NCSBN awarded international NCLEX test site status to Manila in February 2007.

“No longer would nurses from the Philippines, who supply the largest percentage of foreign-educated nurses to the world, have to make a journey from their native country to take the RN licensing exam,” says Mayor.

During her presidency, Mayor represented PNAA at three major international conferences: the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Advisory Group on Nursing and Midwifery conference; the Call to Action: Ensuring Global Human Resources for Health conference, sponsored by WHO, the American Hospital Association and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and the Global Forum on Migration and Development, an annual forum sponsored by Migrants Rights International and other international civil society organizations (CSOs).

“[Our representation] at these conferences was a major breakthrough that [positioned] the PNAA as a player on the international health care stage,” says Mayor.

Championing Nurses’ Rights

Working conditions for Philippine nurses in the U.S. have come a long way over the last 30 years, thanks in large part to PNAA’s efforts on their behalf. “When comparing the early days to now, Filipino nurses are better positioned to advocate for other nurses and speak out for human rights,” Mayor believes.

Rosario-May Mayor, MSN, RN, immediate past presidentRosario-May Mayor, MSN, RN, immediate past president

“Advocacy has always been at the core of the PNAA’s activities, even from its beginnings as the umbrella organization for PNAA chapters in 1979,” adds Mary Joy Garcia-Dia, MA, RN, chair of the association’s Human Rights Committee. Initially, PNAA’s advocacy work focused on assisting the transition of immigrant Philippine nurses to the U.S., providing safety nets and support through networking, mentorship and education, she explains.

An increase in unscrupulous recruitment practices in the early 1980s triggered an expansion of PNAA’s involvement with nurses’ rights issues, both at the national and local chapter levels—a mission that has continued into the 21st century. “PNAA has been monitoring these cases based on anecdotal stories and direct referrals,” Garcia-Dia says.

During Garcia-Dia’s term as PNAA New York Chapter president (2006- 2008), the PNAA Human Rights Committee strengthened alliances with community-based and professional organizations to fight for the cause of nurses’ rights. For example, the chapter joined with the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) and other organizations to support a group of health care workers from the Philippines—26 nurses and one physical therapist— who were lured to the U.S. under false pretenses by an unethical recruitment agency. On arriving in New York, they were forced to accept deplorable, abusive working conditions that honored none of the terms of the recruitment agreements they had signed. When their complaints were ignored for months, the workers resigned, only to face criminal charges of patient abandonment and endangerment.

The PNAA provided financial, professional and emotional assistance to the workers, dubbed the “Sentosa 27” after the Philippines-based Sentosa Recruitment Agency that brought them to the U.S. The charges against the workers were dropped.

PNAA president Leo-Felix Jurado, PhD(c), NE-BC, APRNPNAA president Leo-Felix Jurado, PhD(c), NE-BC, APRN

As a result of its involvement in the landmark Sentosa case, the PNAA was asked by the health services research organization Academy Health to participate in the development of a Voluntary Code of Ethical Conduct for the Recruitment of Foreign-Educated Nurses to the United States, which was published in 2008. Mayor represented the PNAA as president, and two other PNAA members were also at the table: past president Lolita Compas, who represented the NYSNA as its president at that time, and Virginia Alinsao, MSN, MBA, RN, who represented Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital as director of international nursing recruitment.

The PNAA has also worked to break down barriers to practice for foreigneducated nurses. In 2006, an advocacy campaign by the New Jersey Chapter resulted in the state’s elimination of the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) qualifying exam, which was a requisite to approval for nursing practice in that and other states. The Michigan Chapter successfully followed suit in 2007, and petitions to eliminate the exam have reached the final stages of the approval process in Virginia and Indiana.

“The outdated qualifying exam was a duplication of requirements, because the NCLEX-RN® already tests nurses’ knowledge and skills necessary to practice nursing competently,” explains Jurado, who proposed the change to existing regulations to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety. “The exam placed unnecessary financial hardships on foreign-educated nurses and discouraged them from practicing in [our] state.”

Giving Back

For many Filipino Americans who were once immigrants to the U.S., giving back to their native land is an important cultural value. Last year, PNAA’s ongoing efforts to give back to their nursing counterparts in the Philippines were recognized with the Banaag Award, presented to the association by Philippine president Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo. This prestigious presidential award is bestowed on Filipino individuals and organizations whose contributions have significantly benefited or advanced a sector or community in the Philippines.

 

Past president Remedios Solarte, MSN, NP, RNPast president Remedios Solarte, MSN, NP, RN

In addition to honoring the PNAA for its work in helping to establish Manila as a NCLEX testing site, the Banaag Award also acknowledged the association for its achievements in unifying Filipino nurses in the U.S., and for its Balik Turo “teach back” initiative, launched during Mayor’s administration in 2008. The Balik Turo encourages Filipino nurses in the U.S. to return to the Philippines to impart their nursing knowledge and proficiencies. The program is designed to improve the exchange of medical and clinical information, enhance the education of nurses in the Philippines and sustain partnerships with collaborating associations.

Through the Balik Turo, Mayor and project co-chair Solarte coordinate volunteer efforts of RNs in the U.S. to share their areas of expertise with nurses in the Philippines. Counterpart coordinators at Philippine health care facilities request U.S. guest speakers on a variety of nursing topics—leadership, practice, administration, NCLEX-RN preparation, Joint Commission standards and more. The Balik Turo project also encourages Filipino American nurses vacationing in the Philippines to consider sharing their nursing knowledge through presentations and roundtable discussions.

Since becoming president in summer 2008, Jurado has expanded the Balik Turo by encouraging PNAA chapters to adopt a school of nursing in the Philippines. In addition to sending members to the school to help educate the Philippine students, he suggests that chapters develop scholarship programs, help develop nursing curricula, and/or create a faculty exchange program with internships, observational opportunities and seminars.

President-elect Rivera says he plans to not only continue the Balik Turo but enhance it by adding cutting-edge programs and research development. He also plans to focus on faculty development, including a faculty mentoring program via email. “Most nursing faculty members in the Philippines are young and can benefit from experienced U.S.-based nurse mentors,” Rivera explains.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

At the 2009 convention in Baltimore, a time capsule ceremony—the brainchild of convention co-host Vicky Navarro, MSN, RN, vice president of PNAA’s Eastern Region Chapter—marked important highlights of the association’s past 30 years. Members associated with each event or object placed commemorative symbols in the time capsule: the PNAA incorporation papers, a membership pin, a copy of the bylaws, logos, a financial report, the membership list, the first issue of the soon-to-be-launched PNAA Journal, a press release announcing the approval of Manila as a NCLEX-RN testing site, a scroll with signatures of attendees at the 30th anniversary convention and the Banaag Award.

Three teenaged daughters of PNAA members, dressed in white to represent future nurses, wheeled away the time capsule for safekeeping. Plans are to open the capsule at a future PNAA convention in 2029.

“Where will we be in 20 years?” says Miraflor wistfully. “At the time capsule ceremony, my mind raced through the years of the outstanding legacies and accomplishments of every past president who built up the PNAA to what it is today. It was a poignant moment, difficult to let go. [But for me, it was a moment filled with] thoughts of praise and thanksgiving for the opportunity of being the [first president of PNAA] and being part of an organization that has enriched the lives of Filipino nurses as they [fulfill their mission of providing quality health care to America].”

First Generation Education

First Generation Education

Correction: “First Generation Education,” a feature published in our fall 2010 edition, referenced Glen G. Galindo as CAMP’s Executive Director. He is the Executive Director of CAMP’s alumni association, an independent organization. For more information on CAMP, visit www.hepcamp.org.

With college costs constantly on the rise, there’s no denying that pursuing higher education is a massive undertaking—the academic, financial, and emotional elements strain not only students, but their parents and guardians too. So how big of a dent can $750 make in a $10,000 tuition bill? How about a few hours of academic counseling in a jam-packed class schedule? For first-generation students, it makes all the difference in the world.

The College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMP, is a government-sponsored college outreach and scholarship program for students from migrant and seasonal farmworking backgrounds. Established in 1972, a product of President Johnson’s War on Poverty campaign, it has grown from five school branches to 38, with a multimillion dollar backing. From advice on admission and navigating financial aid applications to transitional counseling, CAMP supports students who often cannot turn to their families for help. The program focuses primarily on helping students get into college, but they also offer mentoring through the college years. About 2,000 students benefit from the program each year, joining an alumni network of well over 20,000. Executive Director of CAMP’s alumni association Glen G. Galindo reports a college freshman retention rate of approximately 90%.

Galindo was recruited to CAMP as a freshman at California State University in Sacramento in 1986. Since then, it seems he’s held practically every position in the organization, from student assistant to his current role. He speaks quickly and passionately about the organization and what it does.

“CAMP will provide students with assistance during the application process and support during their freshman year in college. But, ultimately, preparation during high school is a student’s best friend,” he says. “All high school students greatly improve their chances of reaching their educational goals if they earn a high GPA, take the correct college preparatory courses, and take their SAT/ACTs more than once. Unfortunately, most first-generation students lack in one or all of these key points.”

CAMP is not a political organization, Galindo says. It’s funded by federal grants; as such, it can only support U.S. citizens and legal residents. “We would like to see the Dream Act legislation pass so as to give greater opportunity for youth to pursue higher education,” Galindo says. “CAMP students typically have parents with an elementary-level education. Most are U.S.-born citizens, and as first-generation students, simply need guidance and mentorship to reach and succeed in higher education.”

What follows are the stories of three CAMPers. Each student is the first in his or her family to attend college, but the similarities don’t end there. They all appreciate their families and their education. They know they are role models, and they take that responsibility seriously. They understand they’ve been given an opportunity that’s not to be squandered.

Ana Laura Meza

Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Meza moved to Oregon with her family about 15 years ago. She spends her time outdoors, when the Northwest weather allows, and she loves being with her family, listening to her parents’ stories or playing what must be a massive game of Uno—she’s one of seven children.

Meza discovered CAMP as a volunteer at a Cesar Chavez Workshop in Independence, Oregon when the program offered a class that caught her interest. “I did not know much about what I was going to do financial-wise to pay for school,” she says. A CAMP representative named Isabel met with her to explain the program and what she had to do to apply. “We got a bit side tracked dancing and laughing because of the band that was playing outside,” Meza says. “Isabel not only helped me that day to get the application, but she offered her friendship.”

Meza says CAMP gives students a chance to slowly transition from high school to college. “It gives them a small push of motivation to continue to school, to achieve their goals.” Whether it’s a little extra money or life-changing mentoring, CAMP provides essential support at a key transitional point in students’ lives.

“I loved everything about CAMP, from the borrowing of books for your classes to the mentors who kept you updated every week, and the field trips to the local universities,” Meza says. “But the most memorable thing is the people that you meet along your first year.” They bonded over potluck dinners each Wednesday, she says. “The bonds you make with other CAMP students and staff you will keep for the rest of your life.”

Meza faced a number of obstacles in achieving her education, including the price of tuition. “Every person attending college knows that books and tuition are expensive and being unemployed does not help at all,” she says. While the lack of money is a common problem for students from all walks of life, first-gen students also deal with some lesser-known, unique obstacles at home. Never having experienced college or dealt with a child in higher education, Meza’s parents did not always understand all the things she had to do to get good grades, she says. “But no matter what they were always supportive.

“I want my parents to be proud of me, see that I am taking the opportunity of living in the U.S. and not just throwing it away,” she says. “I also want to be a role model for my younger brother who is in high school. I want to show him that if I can do it, so can he.”

Meza just started her second year at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, but she hopes to transfer to Western Oregon University in the spring and work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing. “When I was a little kid. I always enjoyed playing ‘doctor’ with my dolls, setting up scenarios where I had to fix their broken leg, or they were sick and they needed some soup,” she says. “I remember cutting my old shirts and using them as bandages or pencils as needles. As I grew I still had the interest to help people out, and what better way than to be a nurse.”

Jump at the chance to become a CAMPer, Meza advises students considering the program. “One thing for sure is do not take this opportunity for granted, because so many students who live here in the U.S. don’t have the same opportunity as we do,” she says. “Chances like this might only come our way once.”

Jose Arrezola

Health care translators bridge the language gap during some of life’s most difficult and stressful moments. In the public health sector, it’s especially trying work, but it’s Arrezola’s passion. CAMP played a prominent role in getting him there.

Arrezola had already participated in a high school program geared toward migrant children before he learned about CAMP. When he discovered there was a similar program at CSU Fresno, he made an appointment to meet with the director and soon found himself involved as a CAMPer. “I read and learned a great deal about CAMP, and it made a significant impact in my life. I say this because right then I learned that I was going to be part of a group of students that were migrant like me and that also shared many cultural practices like mine,” he says. “That made me feel like I was going to have a family away from home.”

The eldest of five siblings in a family from Amacueca, Mexico, Arrezola came to the United States at 17 years old. He did not speak English, but he learned during night classes after full days at high school.

He credits his parents for their constant support and motivation, but he also struggled to relate the college experience to them. “Because I am of a migrant background and my parents did not go to school, they do not understand the educational system,” he says. “My parents always knew that school will prepare their kids for a better future, but it is not comprehensive.” He says he’s met many other CAMPers with similar problems. “Unfortunately, for various reasons, our migrant parents are not educated about the school system, whether it was poverty, machismo, lack of guidance, or role models.”

Another all-too-common barrier was money. His parents couldn’t afford his tuition, but with financial aid, determination, and help from CAMP, he was able to obtain his bachelor’s degree. “[My parents] did not have the opportunity to go to school like I did. It is my priority to also be a role model to my younger brothers and sisters, because I would also like for them to have a life full of opportunities to enjoy life to its fullest extent.”

Arrezola says college was always part of his plan; he didn’t consider it “optional.” “I was going to be one of those individuals that was going to have guidance in school and also was going to represent the minority in our community,” he says. “Education for me has been my inspiration to make a positive impact in the life surrounding me. I have always believed that an educated community cannot become perfect, but an educated community for sure can make better choices and make a difference.”

Arrezola is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health at California State University, Fresno. “I always knew that I wanted to stay in the medical field,” he says. “After I graduated from college and became a health educator, I saw the necessity and the need to educate our communities about preventative care.” At 30 years old, he’s already worked as a bilingual health educator, leading one-on-one and group sessions throughout California, particularly in rural areas, for United Health Centers, and he’s served as the Administrative Leader of HealthCare California. As a volunteer, he’s worked as a bilingual spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. “This experience has given me the option to understand that, in our society, we have different groups of the population that need a lot of help finding guidance to medical access,” he says.

Arrezola has seen the health disparities in rural communities with limited access to health care. “I felt a close connection and could relate to the concerns of these individuals from personal experience,” he says. “I also felt the need to promote awareness about cultural sensitivity because there are a great deal of barriers, such as language, religion, and communication, etc., that retain people from seeking medical care.” He plans to finish his master’s degree and pursue a doctorate in public health with an emphasis in education.

To Arrezola, if any program can help students through the college experience, it’s CAMP. “I am still involved in the program because I see that new students have the same questions that I had when I was beginning my education at the university, and I want to be able to help them in the same way that program helped me,” he says. “I am proud to say that I am still a good friend with many of the students that I met at the CAMP program. Now a lot of them are professionals in the workforce, and the network that we have built has been a great help to continuously grow in our careers.

“I would like to tell students to take advantage of a program such as CAMP,” Arrezola says. “Be serious about wanting to pursue a college education and not feel discouraged.”

Benita Flores

“My parents are from Jalisco, Mexico, and although I was born in San Diego, I’m proud to say I’m from Jalisco, Mexico, too,” says Flores. Now enrolled in her fifth year at California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM), she first learned of CAMP as a senior in high school, after being accepted to the University. “I had heard the program would help me in my first year at CSUSM,” she says “Students need someone to guide them throughout the first year of college. It’s wonderful to know someone out there cares and wants you to succeed.”

Flores also came from a low income family. Her father and brother shared the family car, and she had trouble getting to her college classes. “I desperately needed a job to cover my expenses, which included my textbooks for college,” Flores says, so she got a job as a tutor at her old high school and took their bus. “At times it was embarrassing, since students that knew me would ask, ‘Didn’t you graduate already? What are you doing here?’ But being embarrassed was nothing compared to my determination to overcome financial and transportation obstacles.”

Flores wrote about her dreams of becoming a doctor when she was a little girl, she says, but she decided she wanted to become a nurse in high school. “Sometimes I would fake being sick because I wanted to go ask the school nurse about nursing,” she says. “Volunteering at Palomar Hospital for two years helped me notice the great satisfaction I would feel when I would receive a smile from the patients I helped. I realized how privileged I was to be able to help the less fortunate.”

And, like the other CAMPers, Flores credits CAMP for providing the support necessary to not only attend but thrive in college. “I thank the CAMP staff for the help they gave me through these past years; if it wasn’t for them, my path in school would have been full of obstacles,” Flores says. “Once you become part of the CAMP family, they guide you through your college years and the road to success becomes more visible.”

*Correction: This article originally referenced Glen G. Galindo as CAMP’s Executive Director. He is the Executive Director of CAMP’s alumni association, an independent organization. For more information on CAMP, visit www.hepcamp.org.