On the job! Baptist Health welcomes students in accelerated nurse training program to their first day of clinical work

Students in the accelerated program at Jacksonville University laying hands on patients for the first time since the program’s launch.

Jacksonville, FL

Thirty-eight students training in an accelerated, second-degree Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) program at Jacksonville University (JU) performed their first day of clinical work on Nov. 4 at Baptist Health, JU's partner in the program. It is the first time the students in the 12-month program exited the classroom and entered the hospital workplace as future nurses to interact with patients.

The cooperative program between Baptist Health and JU, which launched in August with classroom instruction, is designed to fast-track the students into the nursing profession and improve the pipeline of nurses within Northeast Florida and Baptist Health. It includes more than 60 hours of academic instruction at JU and more than 500 hours of clinical instruction, which will be split between a simulation lab at JU and shifts on nursing units at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville and Baptist Medical Center South.

Five Masters-prepared bedside nurses from Baptist Health are serving as clinical adjunct faculty members and welcomed the students to their assignments.

"This is their first time actually putting hands on a patient," said John Waters, MSN, an assistant nurse manager at Baptist Heart Hospital and a nurse for more than 25 years. "The students are starting off by assisting patients with their morning care, taking vital signs, blood sugars and helping them ambulate. Next week, they will have the opportunity to perform blood draws, change dressings and start IVs. As time goes by, they will progress to more complex procedures like wound care and catheters." 

The students range in age from 21-56 and hold a variety of four-year degrees, including fine art, psychology, exercise science and public health. In addition, several have military backgrounds, some hail from other countries and a few already work at Baptist Health in another clinical capacity.

Tishma Sellers, 37, a medical technologist in Hematology at Baptist Jacksonville, spent seven years in the Navy before earning a bachelor's degree in medical laboratory science from the University of North Florida. "I initially enlisted to become a hospital corpsman but unfortunately never got the chance," said Sellers, who served as a deck seaman and later an airman in the Navy. "This accelerated BSN program gives me the opportunity to become something I've always wanted to be -- a nurse." 

Bernard Victorio, 56, who worked in hospital management in the Philippines before immigrating to the U.S. five years ago, said he decided to enroll in the ABSN program after seeing an ad for it on TV. "I did a post-graduate internship at Baptist so I'm familiar with the health system and the way it supports its staff."

"Jacksonville University is so proud of the exceptional students in this accelerated program, and I am personally impressed by their determination and commitment to answer the call for more nurses," said Chris Sapienza, Ph.D, Jacksonville University provost and chief academic officer. "These students rigorously work extra hours in the lab, in their study groups and with their professors to ensure they are prepared to enter the clinical phase and begin putting their knowledge into action at the bedside."

Students chosen for the program were required to hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution. They also had to pass seven prerequisite courses, including two sections of human anatomy and physiology, and a test to evaluate whether they have the academic skills to earn a higher education degree in the health sciences.

Upon successful graduation in August 2022 and licensure the students will have the opportunity to work at Baptist Health.

Photos of the students in action are available here.