Nurses are the backbone of the health care system. As the primary point of contact with patients, nurses provide essential recommendations that inform treatment plans and optimize health. Nurses also ensure that patients’ needs are heard, and help them understand and follow individualized care plans.
Many aspiring nurses who want to answer their calling and serve their community cannot do so because of barriers to higher education.
To educate the next generation of Latino nurses who will be a beacon of hope for underserved communities, we will establish the AltaMed Nursing School Collaborative in East Los Angeles.
Launching the school will enable us to respond nimbly to the severe shortage of nurses at AltaMed and in our region.
The AltaMed Nursing School Collaborative will provide students with access to an affordable, world-class nursing education, including clinical training in AltaMed’s community health setting. Often, health care professionals settle where they train. The experience of being mentored by AltaMed health care professionals will likely inspire and empower nurses-to-be to follow their passion for caring for communities in need.
“I grew up in a household with my extended family. Growing up, watching my grandmother caring for her mother and brother inspired me.
Her mother was a bilateral amputee, and her brother was a diabetic on home dialysis. So I grew up watching her care for my great grandmother without any legs and having to bathe her, inject her with insulin, give her medications, and treat her wounds.
I watched my grandmother take care of her brother and connect him to the dialysis machine. It was peritoneal dialysis, so it was through his abdomen. As a child, I was like, ‘Wow’—I was spellbound. Those experiences really inspired me to get into nursing.”
“I went from being a med-surg charge nurse at another hospital to a Nurse Supervisor at AltaMed’s PACE. Nursing at PACE, a senior care program, has warmed me up.
Do you know the Dr. Seuss story of the Grinch whose heart was two sizes too small and all of a sudden it grew? The Grinch was born with his heart two sizes too small, so he hated Christmas and was so mean to everybody. He eventually stole Christmas and found the beauty of it and gave it back to the Whos.
My grinchy heart grew once I came to work at PACE. Being at my old hospital as a med-surg nurse made me very salty. It was very robotic. It was me and the machine, and repetitive work.
And, oh, my gosh, here at PACE, the bonds you form with your patients! You cry with these people, you get to know them and their families, and you become part of their family. They know my story, and I know their stories. PACE has broken me down and made me human again.
If not for PACE, I would be a grump isolated somewhere up in the mountains. My passion and warmth that I had as a nursing student has come back to me after working at PACE and these patients here.”
In 2018, Latinos made up 9.6% of the California RN workforce, even though 39.3% of the state’s population is Latino. Increasing diversity in the nursing workforce will lead to advocacy because when there is representation, the care team can better address barriers to care and have greater insight into how a community may respond to preventive care and medical procedures.
To increase the number of Latino nurses in the workforce, the solution is creating access to a world-class nursing education. However, many Latino students face barriers to this career path. Some may not have been presented nursing as a career option by counselors and advisers. Others may have come from underserved schools, where advanced math and science education were not strong, making them less competitive when applying to nursing schools.
Many students from low-income families do not have the resources to pursue a nursing education at the community college or university level. The good news is that there is record-breaking interest in the nursing profession. A nursing education is a driver of economic mobility. In today’s changing economy, it offers a wellspring of opportunity.
AltaMed’s innovative work in caring for the community is due in large part to the strength of partnerships and philanthropy.
The AltaMed Nursing School Collaborative will be no different. Once the school is launched, AltaMed will partner with the Annenberg School of Nursing and the University of La Verne for the school’s academic curriculum and certifications.
AltaMed will provide the academic setting, an enhanced clinical curriculum, clinic rotations, student recruitment, financial support to students, job placement in AltaMed clinics, and student mentorship opportunities.
Supporting aspiring and incumbent nurses on their educational journeys is an institutional priority for AltaMed. We have learned from the experience of helping nurses advance in their careers. With the help of our donors, we look forward to applying that knowledge as we bring the AltaMed Nursing School Collaborative to fruition.