FORT LAUDERDALE — The Nursing Consortium of South Florida, a coalition of hospitals, nursing schools, health care agencies and foundations, has once again hosted the “Day in the Life of a Nurse” program in partnership with South Florida public school districts and many private high schools. 

Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale participated recently with 47 students from Cardinal Gibbons High School and Westminster Academy in Fort Lauderdale, Coral Springs Charter, Zion Lutheran in Deerfield Beach, Highlands Christian Academy in Pompano Beach and Archbishop McCarthy in Southwest Ranches.

“This program provides students with a unique opportunity to shadow registered nurses and learn about this truly rewarding career.  We also work closely with the public school systems to provide an orientation to teachers and counselors prior to the event, and suggest ways that they can introduce nursing topics into their curriculum so that student experiences are reinforced in the classroom,” explained Joanne Masella, this year’s program chair and dean of the Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Nursing. “Our goal is to inspire students to pursue a career in nursing by providing them a glimpse of the important and varied work that nurses do.” 

In most instances, students participating in the one-day program take part in various activities including tours of key hospital departments conducted by “real nurses.” 

“This is a fantastic opportunity for students to spend time with a nurse, experience what they do and find out more about the profession,” said Taren Ruggiero, interim chief nursing officer of Holy Cross Hospital.

“It’s a hands-on experience where the students actually perform simple duties such as taking a person’s blood pressure and pulse, listening to their heart beat through a stethoscope, scrubbing in and dressing out in surgical attire, and touring a surgical room where they may handle high tech equipment.”

This marks the 8th year Holy Cross Hospital has participated in the Day in the Life of a Nurse program.

“We are so pleased to have the students come in and spend time with area nurses.  Each can be an inspiration to the other,” said Evelyn Gonzalez-Morlote, president of the Nursing Consortium of South Florida.

“It is important that young people gain a better understanding of the many career opportunities within the nursing profession, the academic requirements for pursuing a nursing education and the attributes common to successful nurses including compassion, common sense, the ability to handle stress and maintain composure under difficult circumstances, a pleasant and affable personality, and a passion for lifelong learning.”

Health care is the third largest source of jobs in South Florida behind the tourism and the public sectors.

“Having an ample and high quality nurse workforce is key not only to our ability to care for an aging population, but also key to the region’s ability to continue to grow as a health care destination in this era of greater transparency that includes published standardized health outcomes and patient satisfaction measures that facilitate the comparison of health care facilities across the country,” noted Gonzalez-Morlote.

“So, this program and other consortium initiatives not only contribute to the region’s future physical and mental well being, it has a real impact on South Florida’s economic vitality as well.”

Photo: A NURSE’S LIFE: Lance Bobb RN, IV nurse therapist for Holy Cross Hospital demonstrates IV insertion skills to students.