RIDE Approves Expansion of Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College
Expansion will allow charter school to build on its success preparing
low-income students and students of color to pursue careers in nursing.
Providence, R.I. The Rhode Island Department of Education’s Council on Elementary and Secondary Education approved a proposal from Rhode Island Nurses Institute (RINI) Middle College Charter School to expand its enrollment by 228 seats. Demand for places in the school consistently outstrips supply, with close to 400 applicants competing for roughly 60 seats in each 9th grade class.
“The council’s vote will allow us to expand our enrollment from 272 to 342 next fall and to serve a total of 500 high school students from across the state starting in 2024,” said Pamela L. McCue, PhD, RN, RINI’s chief executive officer. “We are so grateful to the council, the leadership of Rhode Island education commissioner Angélica Infante-Green and her hardworking staff, and to our many supporters. This expansion will increase our ability to transform Rhode Island’s nursing workforce and more young people’s lives.”
RINI’s goal is to diversify the professional nursing workforce by preparing students from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in health care to be career- and college-ready. The school achieves this aim by creating a supportive learning environment, offering a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum with dual and concurrent college enrollment, and providing authentic nursing and health care workforce experiences. Students earn 16 college credits on average as well as health care licenses and certifications—placing RINI in the state’s #1 spot for college credits and certificates earned per student.
The vast majority of RINI students come from Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls and are often the first in their families to graduate from high school. Many do not see themselves as college-bound or future health professionals before entering the school. RINI inspires them to overcome barriers to academic achievement and puts them on a path toward higher education and a career in nursing.
Seventy-eight percent of RINI’s first 291 graduates have enrolled in college, almost all at Rhode Island institutions, and another 10% will be entering college soon. To date 27 RINI graduates have earned a college degree. In contrast, 2019 New England college enrollment rates averaged 52% for economically disadvantaged students and 55% for Hispanic and Black students. Half of RINI students are Hispanic, 29% are Black and 94% qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.
RINI graduates are also making a difference in their home communities. As of October, 180 held active health care licenses in Rhode Island. Of these, seven were registered nurses—a major achievement for such a young school—and 10 held emergency temporary licenses or permits they acquired in order to work in health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A letter to the council from the Rhode Island State Nurses Association executive director, Donna Policastro, stated “Increasing the [RINI] student body will not only develop the nursing workforce pipeline that is so urgently needed, but will also continue to afford the opportunity for students to enter a profession that will provide them with upward mobility and financial stability.” The school’s clinical and academic partners, including the Lifespan Community Health Institute, Saint Elizabeth Community, Care New England and the nursing programs at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island also fully supported the school’s expansion.
Nursing is one of the fastest growing occupations in Rhode Island, and the state’s population is becoming more diverse. Non-Whites made up 28% of the population in 2016, but only 5% of the state’s registered nurses were Black and 4% were Hispanic according to Healthcare Workforce Transformation: Preparing the Workforce for a Healthy Rhode Island. RINI is the only public school in the nation solely dedicated to bridging this gap.
Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College
The Rhode Island Nurses Institute Middle College Charter High School, located in Providence, opened during the summer of 2011 to educate the next generation of nurses with a focus on academic rigor, leadership development, and workforce readiness. RINI is the first public charter high school in the United States focused on the profession of nursing and the first middle college in the state of Rhode Island. Students in school districts throughout the state are eligible to apply and admitted by lottery. For more information visit rinimc.org.