June 13, 2005 "Hard work, not necessarily talent, is what makes successful people," said Darice Plaskett, chief operating officer at Juan F. Luis Hospital, as she addressed 11 student nurses at their "capping" ceremony. Plaskett said achieving success takes "drive and determination" and wished them well completing the remainder of their instruction.
The event was held on Friday at the Juan F. Luis Hospital cafeteria. More than 70 friends and family were on hand to celebrate the class's first milestone.
The capping ceremony — in which students receive their nurses' caps — is a tradition that dates back to the founding of modern nursing. The ceremony is usually held halfway through the students' clinical training to signify their level of learning.
The nursing program began on September 10 and takes 15 months to complete. The students finished nine months of training, including supervised clinical practice, direct patient care and classroom learning.
The students attend classes at the St. Croix Vocational School and gain practical knowledge at Luis Hospital, the Herbert Grigg Home for the Aged and other health facilities.
When the students complete the program in December they are eligible to take the Nursing Boards examination to become licensed practical nurses. Annie Day Henry and Margo Johnson, both registered nurses, are the class instructors.
Hospital officials are hopeful the continuing partnership between Luis Hospital and the Education Department will help alleviate the nursing shortage the territory has been experiencing for several years.
In 2003, Rodney Miller Jr., Roy L. Schneider Hospital CEO, said the shortage of nurses was "pervasive and growing." At that time a hospital task force recommended, among other initiatives, beginning a licensed practical nurse program in high schools. Hospital officials also discussed importing nurses from Puerto Rico to cut down on the cost of hiring contractual nurses from the mainland. Miller called the shortage of nurses one of the most critical issues affecting both Schneider and Luis hospitals.
Luis Hospital CEO Gregory Calliste congratulated the students, saying they have come across "bumpy roads" but that the hospital will do everything in its power to support the class. Education Commissioner Dr. Noreen Michael told the group that collaboration between government agencies does work. Michael pledged to increase educational opportunities for nursing students.
Also attending the program and making brief remarks was St. Croix Administrator Gregory Francis; nurse Janet Degannes and St. Croix Vocational School Principal Daphne Wilson-Williams.
Members of the nursing class include Ruth Alfred, Chenelle Cuencas, Gena Del Cole, Kinara Gresham, Paulette Jarvis, Carmelia Montes, Ibadine Romney, Juanna Santana and Maralyn Stanley.
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