UR Pathways to Nursing Program back after COVID hiatus

ROCHESTER, N.Y. East High students are eager to learn and eventually help our local hospitals that are still seeing major staffing shortages.

U of R is looking for those staffing solutions. It’s teaming up with East High to get students started on early career paths.

The Pathways to Nursing Program started in 2018 but had to be stopped because of COVID. Wednesday night at U of R’s Helen Wood Hall, there was an event for students to present their current focuses through a poster board. They had the opportunity to showcase their knowledge about what they’ve learned through the program so far.

“It is one of the most significant staffing shortages we’ve had since the late ’70s,” Dr. Maria Marconi said, the director of the master’s program of nursing education at U of R.

About a dozen students were presenting what they’d learned. We caught up with East High seniors Luanys Rivera and Marcus Moore who want to one day help fill that void through the program, which is an initiative led by East High and U of R.

“They need me and you feel like they need you and this is what I’m passionate about, so I can do it,” Rivera said.

Rivera has a current focus on epilepsy. The program placed her in the pediatric unit at URMC. She says it is eye-opening to see how shorthanded nurses are, especially in the pediatric unit with the rise in RSV cases.

“There comes moments when there is only like two nurses in the emergency department for pediatrics, and it’s like, these two nurses are doing more of the job than you think,” Rivera added.

Marcus Moore, who’s also an athlete, says his interest is asthma. He wants to fill the gap with staffing but also wants to bring representation to the medical field in Rochester.

“There is not a lot of Black men and Black staff in the nursing field so for me to actually be doing this as a kid and a Black teen in this universe, it pushes me because I’m an example for other kids younger Black males and girls at the same time,” Moore said.

East High superintendent Dr. Shaun Nelms says students in this program are aware of health care disparities and want to change them.

“You have students who are coming from marginalized communities who have health-related issues or they have a fear of engaging in health fields, so these students will open a door,” Nelms said.

“Patients where they are only Spanish speakers and we don’t have nurses who are Spanish speakers,” Rivera added. “It’s easier for patients to talk to someone who speaks the same language or share the same culture and we need that.”

This program will follow these students as they head into college and offer semester and summer job opportunities.