As a surgical technician, Daniel Ramos has witnessed the impact nurses have on patients and their families every day for the past 17 years he’s worked at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
When the chance came to become a nurse through a new University of Arkansas at Little Rock/CHI St. Vincent program, Ramos, 35, of Little Rock, took a chance to start a new career.
“I have been in the medical field for a long time,” Ramos said. “I want to do that one-on-one care that I’ve seen nurses do. I feel like it is a calling. My passion and my love of caring for people pulled me in this direction.”
Through the UA Little Rock/CHI St. Vincent Pathway Program, students have the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree as part of an accelerated 18-month program at UA Little Rock. Upon completion, students can obtain their RN license and begin a nursing career at CHI St. Vincent.
UA Little Rock and CHI St. Vincent officials welcomed the first 36 participants in the Pathway Program during an Aug. 16 ceremony in which the participants signed their contracts with CHI St. Vincent.
Each Pathway participant will receive a $2,500 per-semester scholarship to cover the cost of the accelerated program. The nursing students are expected to graduate in December 2018 and begin working in spring 2019 after they complete their board exams. Graduates will join the nursing staff at CHI St. Vincent for a minimum of 24 months.
Pathway Participant Elizabeth Hurtt of Sheridan said the scholarship is a “blessing” that will allow her to concentrate on her education without worrying about money.
“It means a lot because not only is it helping me with college, but it’s a token of appreciation from God, and I’m very honored to be getting the award,” Hurtt said. “After meeting everyone from CHI Vincent, I feel like I have a whole team supporting me with my journey to becoming a successful nurse.”
The Pathway Program comes at a time when the vacancy rate for RNs continues to rise across the state and nation.
“This is a great partnership between UA Little Rock and St. Vincent,” said Nisa Trenthem, RN residency manager at CHI St. Vincent. “There is a need for nurses everywhere, since so many nurses are nearing retirement age.”
To produce more nurses, schools and instructors need to add programs and increase students, Trenthem said.
UA Little Rock has already increased its nursing enrollment — from about 700 to about 780 this year.
“I get contacted regularly by people asking how many graduates we have and if they can recruit our graduates,” said Dr. Charles “Preston” Molsbee, chair of the UA Little Rock Department of Nursing. “Hopefully, with the increased enrollment, we can help eliminate that need.”
Pathway Program participant Daniel Ramos and his classmates sign their contracts to work with CHI St. Vincent. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.
Ramos said his three sons – 12-year-old twins and a 10-year-old – gave him the strength to pursue his first college degree and work toward his goal of becoming a nurse to help save lives.
“My boys are my biggest encouragement,” Ramos said. “My boys told me I better walk across the stage in 2018. They encourage me to finish my homework like I encourage them in school.”
Pathway Program participants include:
Jasmaine Bass of Mabelvale
Aarikka Black of Little Rock
Sydney Bradshaw of Sherwood
Allison Brown of Conway
Andranez Bryant of Little Rock
Tearani Buffington of Bryant
Zachary Casteel of Searcy
Morgan Collins of Pine Bluff
Saige Davis of Pine Bluff
Alexis Edwards of Little Rock
David Harris of Conway
Macey Highfill of Cabot
Kimberly Hill of Benton
Elizabeth Hurtt of Sheridan
Angela Keaton of Conway
Sean Lindsey of Little Rock
Alyssa Lloyd of Bryant
Maggie Marshall of North Little Rock
Tyler Massey of Bryant
Makayla McElwee of Lonoke
Marquita McKissick of Little Rock
Ashley Moore of Roland
Monica Morrison of Little Rock
Dominique Neal of North Little Rock
Bradley Oldham of Mabelvale
Jalisha Price of Little Rock
Nicole Purdy of Benton
Tiffany Smith of Little Rock
Veronica Thomas of Alexander
Jasmine Washington of Pine Bluff
Daniel Ramos of Jacksonville
Daniel Ramirez of Little Rock
Maya Nellum of North Little Rock
Zabina Swift of Little Rock
Brittany Reynolds of Little Rock
Adama Weatherspoon of Little Rock