New Jersey Health Initiatives - A Better State of Health
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Guest Blog: New Pathways to Nursing Scholars at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health – Where are They Now?
October 23, 2017
By Elisheba Haqq-Stevens, MFA, RN
Academic Coach for the New Pathways to Nursing Scholars Program at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health
From 2014 to 2016, the NJHI: New Paths to Professional Nursing initiative funded five partnerships between New Jersey institutions of higher education and healthcare providers. The partnerships identified front-line health care workers as a solution to increasing the nursing workforce. Each partnership received two-year, $250,000 grants, which they applied toward reducing barriers for front-line health care workers to enter and complete a baccalaureate nursing program. As a result, more than 30 working students entering pre-nursing courses through this initiative enrolled in Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs as of fall 2016, or will enroll after completing prerequisite courses. As part of NJHI’s support, all educational and employer partners received program technical assistance from Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit that builds educational and economic opportunity for underserved populations in the United States.
One of the NJHI grantees that has sustained its program, Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health, is now coaching a fourth cohort of program participants. Academic Coach Elisheba Haqq-Stevens, MFA, RN, offers this update on a few members of the program’s first cohort.  

Ryan Guitierrez is a husband and father of two. He joined the New Paths to Professional Nursing (NPPN) group with the desire to become a nurse and fulfill his life-long dream. His greatest challenges while in the NPPN program were balancing his family, work and academic life. He was able to achieve the needed GPA to matriculate into Rutgers University School of Nursing (RUSON). However, as his first semester was to begin, he became ill and was unable to continue his academic progress. Currently, Ryan is working full time at RWJBH, while he awaits a kidney transplant. His dream to be a nurse has not diminished and he is determined to return to school after his surgical procedure.

Five years from now…Ryan plans to be healthy, strong and finished with nursing school.

Ten years from now…Ryan intends to be an RN in Nursing Informatics, an area he finds very interesting. As he and his wife both love Disney World (in fact that’s where he asked her to marry him!) he will celebrate his success there with his entire family.

Tina Horton is a mom and grandmother who put the needs of her family first and waited until her children were grown and married before fulfilling her desire to be an RN. Her greatest challenge while in the NPPN program was working full time while attending school. She entered RUSON after only one year in the NPPN program. She graduated with a BSN in spring of 2017 and then passed her nursing boards. She is basking in the glow of being an RN and is waiting patiently, while she anticipates her formal offer of employment.

Five years from now…Tina intends to have completed her Master’s degree in Health Care Management and Leadership and be working in the Emergency Department or ICU.

Ten years from now…Tina’s goal is to be living in North Carolina or Georgia, have traveled to Seychelles, safaried in East Africa and be working in nursing leadership.

Joenith Echevarria courageously left her family behind in Puerto Rico in her early twenties, to pursue her passion of nursing. She conquered the hurdle of supporting herself and fulfilling academic requirements while in the NPPN program. She was unable to finish all her prerequisites in the required two-year time frame, yet she did not give up and is anticipates beginning her associate’s degree program in nursing in Spring 2018.

Five years from now…Joenith looks to have completed her BSN and start her Master’s. She intends to become an RN in either the medical or surgical ICU.

Ten years from now…Joenith’s goal is to be working as a Surgical Nurse Practitioner. She will be married and have at least two children. She will be living in her dream house and be reunited with her family. Since she loves adventure she will have traveled all over Europe, Dubai and Maldives.

Ana Cruz joined the RWJBH team as a patient care technician while also balancing her role as a mother. Upon enrolling in the NPPN program, she became confident that her goal of becoming an RN was possible. She now works as phlebotomist and is in her senior year at RUSON. Her son Gavin excitedly says “Mommy will be finished with school.” Preparing to complete her degree program, some of her RWJBH colleagues remember the earliest days of Ana’s RN interests — when she was a young Health Sciences Scholar visiting the from Health Sciences and Technology High School in New Brunswick.

Five years from now…Ana wants to provide compassionate care as an RN on a neurology floor, which interests her because a number of her family members have had neurological-related illnesses.

Ten years from now…Ana plans to be a nursing director who is a strong patient advocate, and a supportive parent helping her high schooler nurture his own academic excellence.

Elisheba Haqq-Stevens, MFA, RN, is the academic tutor of The Center for Professional Development, Innovation and Research at Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health and an instructor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Learn more about all of the partnerships funded under the NJHI: New Paths to Professional Nursing initiative here.

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