WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - For years, Lakeisha Hall, 19, wanted to be a pediatrician until she saw the White Plains Hospital nurse apprenticeship program at the White Plains High School and became enticed by the nurses.
"They put me on the physician's floor first. But now, I think I want to be every kind of nurse because I've been on almost every floor," said Hall, a sophomore at Long Island University, who graduated from the nurse apprenticeship program Friday after three summers' of training. "It feels great to have learned so much."
Hall and 21 other local college and high school students completed an intensive seven-week course that rotated apprentices through various clinical areas, including the emergency room, the intensive care unit step-down, and labor and delivery rooms. Most apprentices got to watch a surgery and some saw a birth while working full-time shifts through the Richard P. Biondi Nurse Apprentice Program.
Each apprentice received a certificate and gave a speech during Friday's graduation ceremony. One graduate, Nicholas Forlini, mentioned he watched over 60 operations this summer. "It was amazing. I saw two c-sections and today, on my last day, I saw a brain surgery. That was my going away present I guess," said Forlini.
Still, many apprentices, including Hall, said their favorite part of the program was being able to brighten a patient's day.
"There was a patient who was always asking the nurse when I'd be in. We don't come in until 8:30 in the morning. So she would say "Where's Lakeisha? Where's Lakeisha?" said Hall. "I gave her a VIP treatment."
Hall, who plans to begin a nurse associate program at the hospital next summer, is an example of how the hospital hopes to attract new talent when soon-to-be nurses are still young. By the end of 2011, 32 of 69 students who completed the apprenticeship program will have become full-time nurses at White Plains Hospital.
Leigh Anne McMahon, the hospital's vice president of nursing, urged the graduates to keep their grades up and consider joining the White Plains Hospital's staff.
"Our goal here is to promote the profession of nursing in White Plains, as well as the profession that is essential to health care across the country," said McMahon. "All of us in the nursing department anxiously await our apprentices every year."
The nursing apprenticeship program, which is partially funded through federal grants from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration, was created six years ago to address a growing nurse shortage.
The following apprentices graduated from the Richard P. Biondi Nurse Apprentice Program:
- Kimberly Arcilla, a Yonkers resident attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent
- Camille Bailey, a Pelham resident attending Pace University
- Lauren Brancucci, a Dobbs Ferry resident attending the College of New Rochelle
- Fanette Ceus, an Elmsford resident attending Maria Regina High School
- Samantha Deluca, an Elmsford Resident attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent
- Marina DiMattia, a Yorktown Heights resident attending New York Salisbury University
- Nicholas Forlini, a Yonkers resident attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent
- Lakeisha Hall, a White Plains resident attending Long Island University
- Nisha Kurian, a White Plains resident attending the New York Institute of Technology
- Casey Lorusso, a Ridgefield, Conn. resident attending Scranton University
- Laura Lynch, a Pallisades resident attending the Dominican College
- Tamika Lumsden, a New Windsor resident attending Pace University
- Carly Macken, a North White Plains resident attending SUNY Plattsburgh
- Kelly Mendello, a Peekskill resident attending Long Island University
- Alex Rivera, a White Plains resident attending the College of New Rochelle
- Angelica Rivera, a White Plains resident attending New York University
- Marisa Rosario, a White Plains resident attending the College of Mount Saint Vincent
- Sasha Gay Scott, a Jamaica, N.Y. resident attending Pace University
- Taryn Spiegel, a Rye Brook resident attending the College of Charleston
- Nicole Strauss, a Bronx resident attending SUNY Buffalo
- Denise Sullivan, a Pelham resident attending the Westchester Community College
- Lily Wells, a Rye resident attending Michigan University
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