Future Nurses Get Hands-On Experience at West Virginia Junior Nursing Academy

Twenty-five eager students traded in their summer relaxation for stethoscopes and scrubs last week at the West Virginia Junior Nursing Academy, a collaborative program hosted by Bluefield State University (BSU) and WVU Medicine Princeton Community Hospital (PCH).

The three-day academy, designed for students entering high school, offered an immersive experience into the world of nursing. Hailing from five southern West Virginia counties – Mercer, McDowell, Monroe, Wyoming, and Raleigh – these future healthcare professionals were given a glimpse into the rewards and demands of a nursing career.

“We’re facing a growing nursing shortage in West Virginia,” explained Sandra Wynn, MSN, RN, APRN, FNP-BC, Director of Associate Degree Nursing at Bluefield State University. “Programs like this are a great way to introduce young people to the profession and get them excited about a future in nursing.”

Wynn emphasized the importance of reaching students in middle school. “It’s the ideal time to spark their interest in nursing,” she said. “Through the academy, students experience firsthand what nursing is really like – beyond what they see on TV – and learn about the steps they can take in high school to prepare for a nursing program in college.”

The academy’s itinerary included a variety of engaging activities. A highlight for many was a visit to WVU-Medicine PCH, where students witnessed the fast-paced environment and the critical thinking skills required of healthcare professionals. Additionally, the students received hands-on CPR training, a vital skill that could one day save a life.

To further enhance the experience, students were provided with scrubs and stethoscopes, allowing them to feel like true healthcare team members. The academy culminated in a graduation and pinning ceremony, attended by both students and their families, providing a glimpse into the achievements that await them in their nursing journeys.

The West Virginia Junior Nursing Academy is part of a larger effort to address the growing nursing shortage in West Virginia and beyond. BSU and PCH hope to inspire a new generation of compassionate and skilled nurses by providing early exposure to the profession.

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