In 1941, amid the United States' entry into World War II, the University of Utah established the Department of Nursing Education under the School of Education. Seven years later, in 1948, the College of Nursing officially welcomed its inaugural cohort of baccalaureate nursing students. Fast forward to 2023, and the college proudly celebrated its 75th anniversary. At present, the college boasts more than 680 total enrollments, with the pre-licensure program admitting three cohorts annually—a number increased in 2022 to address the nursing shortage.
The College of Nursing is consistently adapting, with a crucial goal of attracting, retaining, and graduating diverse students, aligning with Utah's shifting population demographics. Associate Dean Valerie Flattes, Ph.D., APRN, ANP-BC; Program Manager Aarohi Drabu; and Master of Science Student Alyssa Pham collaborated with University of Utah Health Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion (UHEDI) for the second consecutive year, and hosted a Saturday Academy event on January 20, 2024. This event catered to 90 elementary, middle, and high school students. The Saturday Academy, a collaborative initiative among University of Utah Health colleges and schools and UHEDI, aims to cultivate an inclusive campus environment and foster a robust applicant pool for various health science fields.
With a specific focus on individuals from historically underrepresented populations in health care, the academy inspired students in grades 4-12 to pursue a career in nursing. Attendees actively participated in hands-on activities at the College of Nursing Simulation Center, engaged with nurses and nursing students, and gained insights into the journey of a nursing student, including college preparation, the admissions process, and more. The academy's success was bolstered by the contributions and support of various individuals across multiple entities, including students, staff, and faculty from the College of Nursing; students from the Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine; and undergraduate students from the Health Sciences LEAP program.
Upcoming Saturday Academy events are already in the planning stages and include the College of Pharmacy (February 24), College of Health (March 16), School of Dentistry, and a multi-discipline collaboration on April 20, 2024. Registration for upcoming events, as well as information on future events, can be found on the Saturday Academy webpage.
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