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Lamar University joins St. Elizabeth and St. Mary to host Nightingale Experience

Thirty-five students from 18 area high schools will visit Lamar University and CHRISTUS Hospitals St. Elizabeth and St. Mary Friday and Saturday, June 10 and 11, to gain first-hand experience in the nursing and medical professions.

The JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing will team up with the two hospitals to host the Nightingale Experience, whose goal is to introduce local high school students to job opportunities in the nursing profession as well as to attract them to Lamar’s nursing program, said Eileen Curl, professor and chair of the Dishman Department of Nursing.

Participating high schools include Bridge City, Buna, Beaumont Central Medical Magnet, Beaumont Community Christian, Evadale, Hamshire-Fannett, Kirbyville, Little-Cypress Mauriceville, Lumberton, Port Arthur Memorial, Nederland, Beaumont Ozen, Port Neches-Groves, Silsbee, Vidor, Warren, Beaumont West Brook and Woodville.

“We are encouraging teens to select nursing as a career,” Curl said. Now in its ninth year, the Nightingale Experience gives students a first-hand look at nursing and the hospital setting, Curl said. “The goal is to showcase nursing while students are still making career decisions.”

The experience allows students to discuss career opportunities, visit area hospitals and work in simulated hospital settings with Lamar nursing students, faculty and those already in the profession. They will practice nursing techniques such as injections and naso-gastric tube insertion and simulations like delivering a baby. In addition, students will participate in a blindfold bed-making and nursing uniform design contests. While attending the two-day event, the students will stay in Cardinal Village to get a feel for campus life.

Participants will practice nursing skills from 9:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Friday in the McFaddin Ward Health Sciences Building at Lamar. They will be at St. Mary from 2 to 6 p.m. Friday and back on campus for games and contests from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the McFaddin Ward Health Sciences Building and 7:30 to 10 p.m. in Cardinal Village. The group will visit St. Elizabeth from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

Students will learn about nursing through discussions with faculty and by practicing skills in Lamar’s Edna Horn Gay Learning Center, Curl said. There, for example, students can assist an obstetric mannequin in delivering a baby – and help resuscitate a high-tech mannequin that is experiencing a heart attack, she said.

“Nursing has many more career options than what is portrayed on TV,” Curl said. “Students don’t realize how many options there are. By visiting both St. Elizabeth and St. Mary campuses of CHRISTUS, students obtain insights about a wide range of clinical specialty areas students can pursue in the nursing profession.”

Lamar nursing instructors work closely with area school counselors to identify high school sophomores who are interested in nursing and want to learn more about job opportunities within the field, Curl said. Students are identified and nominated by their counselors, then Lamar nursing instructors select the Nightingale candidates, she said.

Health care professionals predict the nursing shortage in the United States will intensify within the next 10 years. Local hospitals have recruiters who seek out qualified nurses. Curl said nursing offers good pay, flexible hours and job opportunities anywhere in the U.S. because nurses are in high demand.

Lamar University offers both a four-year bachelor’s degree and a two-year associate degree in nursing, as well as graduate degrees in nursing.

For information about Lamar’s nursing opportunities, contact Eileen Deges Curl, department chair, at eileen.curl@lamar.edu or call the nursing advisor at (409) 880-8868.