An alternative Rhode Island charter school paves the way.
- Author: Carol Potera
- AJN The American Journal of Nursing
- Publihed: September 1, 2019
An alternative public school in Rhode Island offers high school students a chance to earn nursing assistant certification and college credits that transfer to qualified bachelor of science in nursing programs, thereby giving them a jump on careers in nursing.
Founded in 2011, the Rhode Island Nurses Institute (RINI) Middle College Charter School (https://rinimc.org) is the first of its kind in the United States focused on the nursing profession. While at RINI, many students work as certified nursing assistants (CNAs) to gain experience and learn about the different roles nurses play in health care. The school is located in the state capital, Providence, but admits students from throughout Rhode Island via a blind lottery system. Tuition is free.
“We’re a brick-and-mortar high school with 272 students, and we’re a precollege nursing pipeline program with a mission to ensure a more diverse nursing workforce. We’re the only program like this in the United States,” chief executive officer Pamela McCue told AJN, adding that she’s received inquiries from other states, “and we’re ready to help them.”
By 2024, the state of Rhode Island is predicted to need 4,000 nurses. The RINI Middle College Charter School, combined with nursing scholarships and college loan forgiveness programs, aims to play a role in meeting that demand.
The school’s recruitment efforts are focused on urban youth from diverse and low-income backgrounds who tend to be underrepresented in the state’s colleges and universities. The current student body is 45% Latino, 36% black, 16% white, and 3% Asian. Ninety-one percent of graduates attend college immediately afterward, and two-thirds of them chose a college or university in Rhode Island.
“We provide an education that leads to a high-demand, high-wage job in nursing, so we’re about workforce development and economic development and changing the composition of the workforce,” said McCue.
Classes start in 9th grade and offer CNA, emergency medical technician, and CPR programs along with the standard high school curriculum. Students take college courses through area universities and also have internship, employment, and shadowing opportunities in health care facilities. After completing the four-year program, they can transfer up to 20 college credits toward a nursing degree.—Carol Potera