Sustainable Housing Project

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Looking at nursing education in Puerto Rico

Angie and Dr. Kathy Stone, professor emeritus from The Ohio State University, have been working for several years on the dream of starting a vocational nursing high school program in Choluteca. In Honduras, there are no nursing education programs at the high school level. There is an existing program for training nurses aides, and there is a university BSN program. They continue to investigate all possible options for starting a new nursing education model in Honduras by the start of the 2016 school year. 

One of the main obstacles that they have been facing is finding a suitable curriculum to use for the nursing school. They had looked at several different programs here in the States but that would mean that they would have to translate everything, which would be a huge job. A model that comes from the States cannot simply be duplicated.

Several graduates of The Ohio State University
They had learned from Dr. Jamie Cano that Puerto Rico has just the type of education that we have been considering. Dr. Cano is a professor of Agriculture Education at Ohio State and is Larry’s academic advisor in the PhD program. Many of Dr. Cano’s former Ohio State students are now actively involved in different educational institutions throughout Puerto Rico. Dr. Cano invited Angie and her daughter Maria to join him and Tyler Agner on a visit of some of the nursing programs that are operating in Puerto Rico. 

On December 14-18, 2014, Maria and Angie joined Dr. Cano and Tyler in Puerto Rico. They visited several university and high school nursing programs. The big advantage with using the Puerto Rico model  is that all of the curricula that they use are available in Spanish. Many of those who they met with were Dr. Cano’s former students at Ohio State. All of them offered to help us with the curriculum availability, as well as expressing a willingness to send professors to help set up a similar program in Honduras. 

One school, Vocational "Ana Delia Flores Santana", offers 10th-12th grade vocational education, including basic general education courses. In the Nursing program, besides their normal hours of school, the students have 1200 hours of clinical skills labs. After three years of high school education, the students graduate with a Practical Nurse degree. After high school graduation, many of these graduates obtain jobs in nursing while continuing to pursue a university degree. The Practical Nursing degree is an academic level between a nurse’s aide and LPN. Practical nurses Puerto Rico do not dispense medications. 

In addition to learning about the vocational nursing high school program in Puerto Rico, they also visited schools that had the LPN, Associate of Science/RN program, and the BSN programs. In Puerto Rico, they have the Masters in Nursing (research), and a PhD Nursing degree, too. Since Puerto Rico is a US territory, their educational system uses the standards of the mainland. They use the American Nurses Association as a basis for their educational standards.To be licensed, students are required to pass the state boards. Many of the graduates are recruited to work on the mainland. However, the LPN degree is not transferable to the A.S./BSN program. 

The three additional institutions visited were the Instituto Tecnologico de San Juan Recinto, the Turabao University, and the University of Puerto Rico. The Instituto Technologico de Puerto Rico, Recinto de San Juan, a public 2-year college, requires the students to have a 12th grade education prior to entering the program. The college offers a two-year Associate of Science degree. The graduates can become licensed as RN’s if they pass the state licensing exam. This program is attractive due to the lower-cost per credit hour. The Associate of Science graduates then have the option to finish up their BSN at another institution with an additional 1 & ½ years of study. 

Turabao University is a private university, offering LPN, A.S., and BSN programs. Turabao is the second largest university in Puerto Rico. 

The University of Puerto Rico is the only public university in Puerto Rico, which was established in 1965. It is considered the best university in Puerto Rico. They offer the undergraduate nursing degrees, but also offer a Masters in Nursing Research and a PhD Nursing degree. 

The exploratory trip to Puerto Rico was successful. Our vision was renewed for what can be done in nursing education. We were able to build a valuable network of support among Puerto Rican professors and institutional leaders. We have the opportunity to use an already established, high-quality curriculum, along with the support of experienced educators! 

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