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Philadelphia Elementary School Opens Mini Nursing Academy for Students

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February 27, 2024

Nursing is an overwhelmingly white profession but health care providers in Philadelphia are trying to change that. 

Nurse Clarissa Collier of North Philadelphia’s General George Meade Elementary School and Southeastern Pennsylvania Area Black Nurses Association, a local chapter of the National Black Nurses Association created an after-school program called the Mini Nurse Academy. The program is a two-month course that offers an introduction to nursing, first aid, and health care–designed for elementary school students. Now in its second year, the class is designed to introduce Black and brown students to the field of nursing and get them inspired to pursue the career path. 

“We break it down to language the kids understand,” Venus Gwynn, a retired nurse in the local NBNA chapter, told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “There’s a lot of opportunities for students in junior high and high school, but we’re introducing this career to younger kids.”

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Students aged 8 to 11 learn multiple medical practices in the program—from first aid to using blood pressure cuffs, CPR, and dressing a wound. These skills empower students to assist family members living with medical conditions at home or serve as a foundation for their nursing education. One fourth-grader expressed that he joined the academy because he’s seen “too many people get hurt” and wanted to be able to help them.

“Some of the kids have seen people stabbed or shot — the trauma that’s gone on,” one nurse instructor said. “They can appreciate this information, like how to stop bleeding. It makes them feel more in control, because they could actually do something if they needed to.”

More than anything, the academy is designed to empower young students, to allow them to see people who look like them in a position to save lives.

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 “To see Black nurses leading and educating is powerful for the students,” said Monica Harmon, SEPABNA’s chapter president.

Cover photo: Philadelphia Elementary School Opens Mini Nursing Academy for Students / Credit: The Philadelphia Inquirer

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