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New Approaches Motivate Hispanic Nursing Students

Monday December 8, 2008
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Motivating and inspiring today's Hispanic nursing students calls for updated approaches, as the National Association of Hispanic Nurses knows from experience. In response to the need for an organization tailored to Hispanic students, NAHN Houston Chapter president Jackie Crespo Perry, RN, BSN, CA-CP, SANE, formulated a pilot program that became the NAHN Students Association.

Flash of Insight

"Students need someone to accept them for who they are," says Perry who realized this as she observed the cross examination of a defendant in court. Perhaps, if the young man had had someone to turn to, his life choices would not have revolved around gang membership and the resulting crime, she mused.

Perry planned a start-up organization affiliated with NAHN for nursing students to be involved, have input and even reach out to high school students.

In the Beginning

In early 2008, then NAHN president Maria T. Villot, RN, BSN, appointed Perry to chair the NAHN Select Committee of the Students Association, to formulate the program. Perry initiated the bylaws for the Students Association and developed an advisory committee of nine volunteer regional NAHN representatives, comprising of six NAHN members and three student members.

Until elections take place, the NAHN advisory committee functions to govern the association. An appointed slate of student officers including President Jorge Luis Prada, Hunter-Belleview School of Nursing, NY; Vice President Nina Gonzalez, Northern University, Philadelphia; Nicole Zavala, Mt. St Vincent's Hospital School of Nursing, NY; and Jasmine Seunarine, pre-nursing student, Hunter-Belleview College, NY; are working to prepare for a Students Association national election at the national convention to be held in San Antonio in July 2009.

Student Voice

The novelty of the organization is its open membership benefits to high school and pre-nursing students. "It's necessary to provide needed support to students from their first moment of choice for a nursing career," says Prada, who recounts the void he felt as a pre-nursing student. At that time, admission requirements for existing organizations required acceptance into an accredited nursing school, he says.

The Students Association welcomes other level nursing students as well, and is an opportunity to develop leadership skills.

Student members Alejandra Vazques and Angeles del Desierto (Yuma, Ariz., Chapter); Illiana Suarez, Chris Ruiz, and Marylee Gonzalez (Staten Island, NY, Chapter); and Linda Hinogiante (Phoenix Chapter) helped create the association's mission as well as the vision statement and core values. With its attention to educational enhancement of Hispanic students, the association considers core values of integrity, respect, creativity, innovation and service to the community.

On the Agenda

Student Advisory Board members Vasques, Prada and Gonzalez set up a Students Association group page on Facebook. "We thought it important to provide peer-to-peer support through this social network as well as contact through e-mail," said Prada.

Future plans include providing presentations to high school students, recruiting and welcoming new members, formulating promotional letters for high schools and nursing schools, creation of a logo and preparation of an association presentation at the 2009 NAHN annual conference.

"We plan to provide members with opportunities to improve test-taking skills and NCLEX reviews, and on creating a networking environment, all that will contribute to their professional development," Prada says.

"Although the organization targets Hispanic student nurses, others are welcome to join as associate members," Prada says. "We believe in inclusion and working together," he says.

All of NAHN's 32 Chapters have been invited to initiate Student Association affiliates. To date, Student Association members total approximately 180 across the country.


Lorraine Steefel, RN, MSN, DNP, CTN, is a senior staff writer at NurseWeek.To comment on this article e-mail editorSC@nurseweek.com.