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Schneider Regional Helping to Ease V.I. Nursing Shortage

May 3, 2007 — Moving one step closer to becoming registered nurses and helping ease the critical nursing shortage in the territory, 13 students will graduate from Schneider Regional Medical Center’s (SRMC) practical nurse program this Saturday morning at St. Thomas' Holy Family Catholic Church.
In a release issued Thursday, Schneider CEO Rodney Miller said, "This program has been a critical component to addressing our shortage of nurses here at SRMC. It benefits the students because they receive hands-on training in real-time work situations. It also benefits us because it allows the hospital to move toward sustaining a consistent and high level of quality care and service for our patients."
The 15-month nursing program prepares students to take the NCLEX exam, a prerequisite test that students must pass to earn their license. June Adams, chair of SRMC's governing board, said the training is a "bridge" that provides necessary experience and teaching to help pupils make the leap from students to nurse practitioners.
"The program has had a very positive effect on our medical facility," said Adams, who added that the hospitals is spending between $6 million and $9 million annually to retain travel nurses because universities are not producing enough nurses to satisfy current demands.
Adams hopes partnerships with the Inter-American University in Puerto Rico and the Helen Fuld School of Nursing in New York will increase the number of registered nurses and help defray high operating costs. We’re also working on an online program and are in negotiations with the University of the Virgin Islands to provide additional options for advancement.
"Students learn from the same textbooks that major universities use to teach their nursing students," says Adams. "This program is like an internship, but much more advanced. Students can work hand in hand in units with clinical instructors and get exposure to nursing practices."
Since the program’s inception in 2004, more than half (58 percent) of the 36 applicants have met National League for Nursing standards. SRMC hopes to increase those numbers next year.
"We’re moving in the right direction; this year we have 13 graduates," Adams says. "I’m confident that this program will continue to grow."
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