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Project Hope initiative to give ESL nursing students a boost

Rosa Sulca

As a student at the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore, Cecilia Kim sometimes finds the English language challenging. That’s why Kim, who spoke English and Korean as a child, is excited by a new initiative to help students whose native language is not English increase their chances of passing the National Council Licensure Examination on their first try.

“I think anything that will help push students harder to do better on the NCLEX is a great thing,” said Kim, who recently completed her first semester.

UMSON was awarded an 18-month, $200,000 grant to launch Project Hope next spring to help English-as-a-Second Language students improve their performance in Adult Health Nursing, a key course that assesses how well they will do on the NCLEX, according to Dean Jane M. Kirschling, RN, PhD, FAAN.

“It’s one of those predictor courses,” Kirschling said. “It helps us to understand the students’ likelihood of being successful with the rest of the program and being successful on the licensing exam.” Over the past five years, UMSON students performed well on the NCLEX-RN exam, with 92% of BSN students and 93% of CNL students passing on the first try. But “75% [of those] who did not pass the licensing exam on the first attempt were ESL students,” Kirschling said. The data were used to justify the grant to provide enhanced services for ESL students.

“We know they [ESL students] are more likely to not be successful on the first attempt, and we absolutely want our students to be successful on the licensing exam,” she said.

About 15% of UMSON students admitted to the prelicensure program meet the ESL criteria each semester, Kirschling said. Students pursuing nursing studies in the traditional baccalaureate program and the Clinical Nurse Leader master’s program take Adult Health Nursing early in their respective programs.

Maria Corpus

The grant will provide extra support for at least 15 ESL students enrolled in the adult health course each semester. Prior to each lecture, students will meet and focus on normal physiology and some of the key vocabulary terms that will come up in the lecture, as well as review correct pronunciation of terms. After the lecture, students will reconvene to work on “application of the content that was given in the lecture to help them to incorporate that information and be able to better use it,” Kirschling said.

The semester-long program also will provide participants with a $500 scholarship as a way to demonstrate the school’s commitment to them, Kirschling said. The $500 scholarship will be a welcomed resource for ESL students, Kim said.
ESL nursing students praised the upcoming program.

“There are so many different nationalities in the healthcare system, so I think this is a great idea because it pushes the idea of diversity,” said Maria Corpus, who first spoke Tagalog as a child in the Philippines. The program will help students learn English and with their nursing studies, said Corpus, a third-year student working on her BSN.

“I think it is fantastic,” she said. Corpus began speaking English in kindergarten and considers herself proficient in English, but knows many ESL students who could benefit from Project Hope.

Rosa Sulca, who moved from Peru eight years ago, shares Corpus’ enthusiasm. She believes the program will fill a need and hopes to participate in it. The part-time student struggles with English in nursing school “as the level of English literacy is a bit higher,” and “learning the medical terminology has been very difficult,” she said.

A first-generation college student working on her BSN, Sulca said Project Hope will help the University of Maryland “to be more diverse in their student environment and assist the university in providing a more diverse population of professionals.”

“Language skills are really important to be able to take what can be really complex information and to learn that information, and then be able to apply it, because by the time they get to the licensing exam, it is about application,” Kirschling said. “This is another piece of the toolkit to help our students be successful.”

Robin Farmer is a freelance writer.


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By | 2021-05-07T16:39:39-04:00 August 12th, 2014|Categories: Nursing Education|1 Comment

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    Angelica Feuer March 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm - Reply

    My company Feuer Nursing Review is interested in sponsoring some of the ESL students in this program with a NCLEX Prep course. Who is the best contact person to speak with to set this up?

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