LU News Archive

Hands-on learning for high school students

Thirty-five high school students from 20 area schools visited Lamar University and CHRISTUS Hospital St. Elizabeth and St. Mary campuses on June 8 and 9 to learn about the nursing profession.

Eileen Curl, professor and chair of the JoAnne Gay Dishman Department of Nursing at Lamar, said the Lamar and CHRISTUS hosted program is aimed at introducing high-school students to nursing and the job opportunities available within the profession.

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

High schools that participated in the 2012 program include Brandeis High School, Bridge City High School, Buna High School, Elsik High School, Evadale High School, Goodrich High School, Hamshire Fannett High School, Hardin-Jefferson High School, Hull-Daisetta High School, Kirbyville High School, Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School, Lumberton High School, Nederland High School, Orangefield High School, Port Neches-Groves High School, Silsbee High School, Vidor High School, Warren High School, West Brook High School and Woodville High School.

Nightingale participants stayed in Cardinal Village, the university’s state-of-the-art residence hall, to get a glimpse of student life at Lamar during their visit.

The program, now in its 11th year, enables students to receive hands-on learning opportunities while working in a simulated hospital setting. Students learn about nursing through discussions with faculty and by putting skills to practice in Lamar’s Edna Horn Gay Learning Center, Curl said. For example, at Lamar University, students can assist an obstetric mannequin deliver a baby and help resuscitate a high-tech mannequin experiencing a heart attack, she said. Lamar has a new Simulation Center that looks like a hospital unit with 10 patient beds.

“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.”

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 that field, Curl said. After students are identified and nominated by their counselors, Lamar nursing instructors select the Nightingale candidates, she said. 

Curl said experts predict the nursing shortage in the United States to intensify within the next 10 years. She said, however, that nursing offers good pay, flexible hours and, because of the high demand, there are job opportunities almost anywhere in the U. S. She said local hospitals have recruiters who seek out qualified nurses to help fill the need.

Lamar University offers bachelor’s and graduate degrees in nursing.

For information about Lamar’s nursing opportunities, contact Eileen Deges Curl at or call the nursing advisor at (409) 880-8868.