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Nursing Information Panel offers insight into the competitive program

Current and future nursing students were able to ask Valley instructors about the program and the application process.

By Cassandra Nava, News Editor

Valley College’s nursing program held a virtual panel on Oct. 29 with faculty and previous PASO mentors in order to share their experiences with prospective students.

The PASO program, Promoting Awareness of STEM Opportunities, was created to enlist lower income and Latino students into the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses offered at Valley. The program offers peer mentors to students, in order to help them navigate the courses. As part of the PASO program’s fall monthly speaker series, the panel featured speakers who are registered nurses, professors and PASO mentors.

Moderator and STEM counselor Kassidy Miller described the schedule of the event, explaining that the first half hour would be allocated for the nursing faculty to give introductions on themselves and their history with the program. Questions were encouraged by the student audience through Zoom’s chat feature. Full-time Valley professors Wendy Dufour, Marichu Gan and Geraldine Weber introduced themselves and shared their history in the medical field.

“I was very lucky that I fell in love with nursing,” said Dufour as she introduced herself. “I knew I wanted to help people and I was lucky enough to have some mentors as a student. I hope that I can be a support and mentor to others, as you will be to those people after you as well.”

The professors were able to answer any general questions students had, regarding work expectations, class schedule and prerequisites. Dufour explained that the nursing program only accepts applications twice a year — in September for the spring and in April for the fall. According to Dufour, each filing period accepts only 40 students, but over 500 people applied this September.

Former PASO program students and mentors Demetria Ray, Roxanne Quesada-James and Esther Nwachukwu introduced themselves to the panel, and shared their experiences in working to achieve their associates degree in nursing.

A graduate of the class of 2019, Quesada-James applied for a registered nurse position at Los Angeles Community Hospital, where she has been working for a year in the medical surgical unit. Due to the pandemic, she now helps in the hospital’s COVID-19 unit when needed.

“I was one of the first people to man the COVID unit in my hospital,” said Quesada-James. “In the beginning it was a bumpy road. Because visitors are not permitted, some days I spent the day holding the phone connected to FaceTime for a patient who can’t hold the phone themselves due to being so weak. You have to work hard to protect the staff and yourself, and be very conscious of not spreading the virus.”

Gan stressed the importance of students learning how to deal with patients when the day in the life at a hospital can be hectic.

“As educators, part of our responsibility is to make sure that students are aware of all these skills,” said Gan. “Part of your training is to see how you interact in the hospital, with the patients, with the family and how you communicate with them. It’s not just about giving medications.”

Although the deadline to apply passed for this upcoming semester, students can prepare to apply for the spring filing period. For more information, students can book a STEM counseling appointment, review the program requirements and check on the campus website to learn exactly how to apply.

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