By Kelly O'Brien
The 2013 summer semester marked the launch of Leadership 2.0: Nursing’s Next Generation Program. Leadership 2.0 embodies the College of Nursing’s aspiration to further promote diversity within its student body through academic and extra-curricular enrichment. The college aims to not only increase the number of underrepresented (URE) students admitted to the traditional BSN program, but to also strengthen the retention rates and academic success achieved by these students. Recently, the program was awarded over $1 million in funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) through a grant submitted by Dean Greer Glazer and Associate Dean for Clinical Practice, Partnership and Community Karen Bankston titled, “Leadership 2.0: Nursing’s Next Generation.”
The demand for this movement stems from concrete data analysis and supportive application to the educational and nursing sectors in the United States, including the Cincinnati area. Historically, according to the United States Census Bureau, Ohio has a considerably low college degree attainment rate compared to other states. In addition, the Greater Cincinnati area alone is home to roughly 625,000 residents living below the national poverty level, and includes those without education past high school. These socioeconomic factors present barriers to URE students who are potential applicants for the BSN program at the UC College of Nursing.
The college also identified an admission-centered disparity between URE students and non-Hispanic white students. Despite the fact that Cincinnati is composed of 51 percent of individuals with URE minority backgrounds, only 7 percent make up the city’s nursing workforce today. In regards to the University of Cincinnati, only 7-10 percent of URE students who apply to the college’s nursing program are admitted. This is widely due to high school GPA and college entrance exam score requirements: the college stipulates that high school students possess at least a 3.0 GPA and a 23 ACT score for admission consideration. The corresponding data indicates that many of the students are impacted by social barriers that negatively impact their academic performance. Such things as attendance at a lower performing school, living in poverty or being the first person in a family to attend college, all are barriers that may be suppressing the talents of a student with high potential.
This realization inspired the college to adopt a holistic review process, so as to not overlook potentially excellent students who are deterred by a lack of financial and domestic support prior to applying to college. Leadership 2.0 illustrates the college’s strategy to dispel future ethnic and racial disparities and break socioeconomic cycles that prevent such students from pursuing a BSN degree. The program provides both financial and social support, as well as an immersion in a learning environment created to improve the student's probability of success, while promoting overall enrichment in their student experience while attending UC.
The program begins the process by offering services tthrough their high schools that prepare them for success, such offerings as ACT prep courses, additional financial options for parents and group campus visits. This is being implemented through “grassroot” partnerships with local high schools in the surrounding area to facilitate student acclimation prior to admission. The college also recently hired a diversity recruitment coordinator to work closely with these high school representatives, students and parents in order to ensure a positive experience at UC. In addition, the college aims to collaborate with and provide support to parents and guardians along the way to alleviate any concerns they may have about their students pursuing a college degree, especially for those supporting a first generation student.
The program also includes a Residential Summer Bridge Program. Students are selected based on their demonstration of ability to succeed as well as their GPA and ACT scores. The residential program is six weeks of academic and developmental immersion designed to prepare students for the BSN curriculum and collegiate atmosphere at UC. After completion of this rigorous program, they are placed in student learning communities during freshman and sophomore years.The first cohort graduated from the Summer Bridge Program on August 1, 2013.
"When I first came to the campus, I was a little overwhelmed about the size of the campus and all the technology. The program really helped me to become acclimated to everything, and I developed an interdependent relationship with my cohort - one that has helped me through this sea of people and classes that I've been immersed in since the fall term began. I am so glad I did the program," says Summer Bridge Program graduate Destini Thomas.
The Leadership 2.0 students received iPad minis and training so that they are prepared to leverage technology in their education. The students attended didactic seminars to enhance study skills for subjects deemed difficult in the past, such as anatomy, chemistry and microbiology. They were also instructed to campus services, attended mandatory study tables, completed a four-hour clinical with St. Vincent de Paul food pantry and attended nursing-relevant social events and ceremonies to foster relationships with their peers.
Another focus of the program is also an early emphasis on research. Students are required to attend the UC Annual Undergraduate Research Poster Forum during their freshman year and will then immerse themselves in a research project with a faculty member to be presented during their sophomore year. Also during freshman year, students must complete a service-learning project under the facilitation of a faculty member and then lead future projects during their sophomore years. One such project will be led by Dean Glazer in collaboration with Salvation Army.
To remain enrolled, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and attend all mandatory Leadership 2.0 events and activities to ensure they are engaged in all aspects of academic and professional development. Through Leadership 2.0, the college offers the necessary, innovative resources and practices that will successfully spur URE student enrollment and retention for the breadth of their collegiate careers.