Recipients of AdvancingAspirations who are pursuingNursing:
With only 1.7 percent of the national nursing pool being Hispanic and only 5.4 percent male, nurse-in-training Ruben Santana is helping to change the image of the profession.
Santana, a medical assistant at BWH for four years, is working toward a degree in nursing from Quincy College. He is a success story on a number of levels, including the fact that he was introduced to the health care opportunities young, and he has worked his way up the professional ladder at BWH.
Santana’s distinct bedside manner benefits the often-anxious patients in the Antenatal Diagnostic Center on the third floor of the Center for Women and Newborns. It is here that he works closely with Mary Susan Bussey, RN, and Katherine Bennett, RN, NIC, surveying near-term fetuses for signs of fetal distress often associated with high risk pregnant patients.
On a recent day at the center, Santana gently moves the monitor from left to right on a patient’s abdomen, tracking the baby’s heartbeat. He smiles at his patient and jokes about the baby’s attempts to move out of range. The patient is at ease.
Looking ahead to both address an aging nursing population and a declining number of nursing school graduates across the country, BWH several years ago began laying the groundwork for a variety of programs to attract and hire registered nurses to join the hospital’s talented nursing team. BWH Human Resources specialists and members of Patient Care Services re-engineered the way they sought out new recruits, visiting colleges near and far, holding open houses and creating internal programs to help young individuals like Santana enter nursing or redirect veteran nurses to specialize their careers. Other recruitment programs include the Diversity Mentorship Program, Employee Referral Program, job fairs and professional conferences.
The hospital's efforts are beginning to pay strong dividends. During the last fiscal year (FY 02), more than 300 nurses joined the BWH team. Of the approximately 80 new graduates hired by BWH, almost 40 were internal promotions, predominantly PCAs who completed nursing school.
“We want young people to start thinking about nursing as a career early on. We need to be creative in our approaches, and moving forward we will be looking at broad-based campaigns that help change the image of nursing in the minds of young people long before they make career choices,” said Leona Martin, nurse recruiter, Human Resources.
Early exposure to a career in health care seemed to spark Santana’s pursuit of a nursing career. His decision was made when he was a junior at Dorchester High School—as one of nine students selected to volunteer at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Jamaica Plain, he observed nurses and physicians at work.
“The experience really touched me,” said Santana. “These people came in to work every day to make other people’s lives better. I knew then that I wanted to be a nurse. It was just a matter of when and where.”
The next year, as a senior, Santana landed an internship in BWH’s Operating Rooms, preparing prostheses for ortho-pedic procedures. The experience led him to pursue an associate’s degree in science from Hesser College in Manchester, NH, after which he returned to BWH as a medical assistant.
He immediately began taking the prerequisite courses needed to enter a nursing program. And now, after four-and-a-half years of studies, Ruben is completing his first year in Quincy College’s Nursing Program.
“I’ve felt incredibly supported in my efforts to become a nurse at BWH,” said Santana. “The hospital always has helped me with tuition, which has been very important to me and my family.”
Santana is one of 29 BWH employees to receive tuition support under the hospital’s Advancing Aspirations Award Program, which providedscholarships to support BWH employees pursuing health care careers during the 2002-2003 academic year. The funding was given to BWH via Partners HealthCare System by the U.S. Department of Labor through the Incumbent Health Care Worker Training Program and may be used toward tuition, course supplies, child care and transportation.
“Awardees were selected based on their hard work, dedication and quest for career advancement in our organization,” said Deborah Conlon, training and program coordinator, Organizational Development, Training and Diversity Management.
“The Advancing Aspirations Program is one of the home-grown recruitment efforts,” added Martin.
Of the 29 Advancing Aspirations awardees, 15 are pursuing degrees in nursing. Indeed, Santana is representative of the new face of nursing at BWH.