The need for nurses—especially from under-represented groups—is great. Sol E. Sanchez, BSN, RN, derives great satisfaction from her work supporting and mentoring future nurses in the innovative ASPIRE Program, as she shares in this story.
The ASPIRE Nurse Scholars Program is an enrichment program designed for high school juniors interested in pursuing a career in nursing. This program is by Cleveland Clinic and the Howley Foundation in collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College and is designed for high school juniors interested in pursuing a career in nursing. The program focuses on providing underrepresented students with career information and critical skill sets to support their entry into and success in nursing school and beyond. I had the opportunity to volunteer my time with this wonderful program. After two years I officially became part of the team and now serve as the Nursing Professional Development Specialist (NPDS) for the ASPIRE Program.
In my role, I have been able to utilize student feedback and a continuous improvement process to modify, develop, and implement curriculum for students who return as seniors after successfully completing the 12-week program as high school juniors. This additional support during their senior year helps them to transition to adulthood and to their role as PCNAs here at Cleveland Clinic. In addition to my NPDS role, I work PRN on our surgical short stay unit. My relationships and experience within the system have given me the opportunity to take small groups of students and immerse them into unit culture.
I most enjoy helping our students navigate their experiences once they get to college. Although our students have a significant number of barriers, they have shown their resiliency and passion for nursing. I am proud of the work that I am doing to support students, who like me, are passionate about making a difference in the world. Research has shown that a diverse nursing workforce positively impacts the patient experience. Patients need to feel they can comfortably share aspects of their culture, especially ways in which they take care of themselves without feeling judged by their caregivers. I am so proud that my work will ultimately help increase the diversity of our workforce.