As a nurse and the director of New Jersey Health Initiatives (NJHI), the statewide grantmaking program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, I congratulate Shantá Rembert and Lesliann Baez on earning their Bachelor of Science degrees in Nursing from Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden. These front-line personnel for Cooper University Health Care participated in the Rutgers Camden–Cooper Collaborative for Upward Mobility in Nursing (RCC ColUMN), and are the first graduates who began working toward their degrees under NJHI’s New Paths to Professional Nursing initiative.
Through this initiative we sought to diversify the nursing workforce and build healthier and more equitable New Jersey communities by creating career ladders for front-line healthcare workers historically underrepresented in nursing. NJHI funded five higher education-healthcare partnerships, including RCC ColUMN, which provided remediation and mentoring to support students from low-income, communities of color who worked on the front lines of healthcare and aspired to become nurses.
Hear one program participant’s story:
As a result, more than 30 working students who entered pre-nursing courses through this initiative were enrolled in Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs by the fall of 2016. 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 across the country.
“When you are juggling work, family and school, it takes only one thing to tip the iceberg,” said Dr. Lynne Borucki, Divisional Chair of the Center of External Affairs and Clinical Excellence at Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden and RCC ColUMN co-director. Recognizing the number of students who are non-traditional adult learners and need academic, social and emotional supports, the RCC ColUMN program included peer-support, mentoring and remediation opportunities. Dr. Borucki notes the program participants utilized the available support.
“It’s about the students being successful,” she said. Another two students are projected to graduate with their nursing degrees this December.
Rutgers School of Nursing–Camden has adopted RCC ColUMN’s mentoring and remediation models, and we look forward to more students graduating.