SPOKANE, Wash. –This summer, 22 high school students from 15 Native American tribes and 23 Washington high school students will have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a health sciences curriculum at the 16th Annual Na-ha-shnee Health Science Institute, held at Washington State University campuses in Pullman and Spokane.

The Na-ha-shnee Health Science Institute unites aspiring health care professionals with Native American health care professionals and faculty and students from WSU College of Nursing, WSU College of Pharmacy, and Eastern Washington University Dental and Physical Therapy programs. Current WSU Native American nursing students will serve as counselors for the session. Faculty and university students will teach students the skills they need and offer advice to put them on the right track to a health career.  Emphasis will also be placed on addressing the need for more Native American health care professionals now and in the future.

“Native Americans represent less than .5 of a percent of the health care workforce,” said Robbie Paul, Native American Health Sciences director at WSU. “This program allows them and other underserved students to experience a career in health care while also introducing them to a field where they can learn to help others, a concept that is ingrained in the fundamental ideology of Native American culture.”

The free program, traditionally offered exclusively to Native American high school students, expanded this year, joining forces with Creating a Nursing Path, a program consisting of 23 high school students. Funded by a workforce diversity grant, Creating a Nursing Path is led by Janet Katz, RN, an associate professor from the WSU College of Nursing in Spokane. The purpose of this program is to address the need to graduate baccalaureate (BSN) prepared nurses from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Students will stay busy during the 12-day camp, set for June 20-July 1, by participating in a variety of activities, including:

  • Participating in a human anatomy lab where students will view cadavers and be able to touch different body parts
  • Participating in their choice of mini health care workshops, including Physical Therapy, Nursing, Speech and Hearing, Medical Doctor, Epidemiology, Pharmacy, Exercise Physiology, and Nutrition
  • Experience completing a “Pig’s Foot Suture” where students will use sutures to stitch up a wound
  • Mini Health Olympics where students will take their own vital signs after completing variety of tasks
  • Using simulation to learn fundamental nursing skills
  • Dissecting a large bug to learn lab science skills
  • Learning CPR and First Aid
  • Providing care to animals to promote interest in science

Other topics that will be taught include history, culture, health care needs of Native Americans and others, first aid, gathering of traditional medicines, Native American teachings, leadership skills, team-building activities, diabetes education, substance abuse, and sex education.

About Na-ha-shnee
The result of an earlier student leadership exercise to give the summer institute a Native American-sounding name, Na-ha-shnee is an amalgamation of the words Native American High School Summer Nursing Institute. It has no literal translation in any tribal language. Na-ha-shnee encourages Native American youth to explore and pursue a career in the health sciences while providing learning experiences with Native Health care providers as teachers and role models.

Participants in the Na-ha-shnee Heath Sciences Institute represent the following 15 tribes:  Spokane, Colville, Yakama, Snoqualmie, Puyallup, Lummi, Umatilla, Blackfoot-Cherokee, Shoshone-Paiute, Cherokee, Turtle Mountain Chippewa, Shoshone-Bannock, Tlingit, Chippewa Cree, and Siletz. They come from Washington and Oregon.

Funding for the institute is provided by the Trude Smith Plateau Native American Fund, Washington State University College of Nursing, the Creighton Native American Fund at WSU, the Seattle Indian Health Board, Go-NASF
 and ConneX from the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic.

About Creating a Nursing Path
In 2008, Hispanics made up 15.4% of the US population, but only 3.6 percent of the 2 million RNs. The goal of this project is to increase the number of disadvantaged graduates from the baccalaureate nursing program (BSN) at the WSU College of Nursing who are prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and practice in rural and federally designated underserved areas. The target population is disadvantaged students, including Latino and American Indian, from federally designated, medically underserved areas.

This project is supported by funds from the Division of Nursing (DN), Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) under D19 HP 19023, Creating a New Path: Preparing Disadvantaged Students for Nursing Careers, $894,550. The information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any official endorsement be inferred by, the DN, BHPr, HRSA, DHHS, or the US Government.

About Go-NASF
Go-NASF (Growing our Own Native American Students and Faculty) is a federally funded program to increase the numbers of Native Americans in higher education and in health sciences research. It is a partnership between the Northwest Indian College, Northwest Washington Indian Health Board, WSU and the UW. Go-NASF supports the Na-ha-shnee Institute through National Institutes of Health and the Indian Health Service support.
About ConneX
ConneX is a program that identifies young people living in the Yakima Valley of Washington State who are interested in health care careers. The focus is to motivate this diverse group of students to excel in school, their personal lives, to pursue higher education, and to eventually realize their goals of becoming health care professionals. Ideally, they will return to their communities to practice their skills. ConneX is affiliated with the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, a federally qualified healthcare center with substantial experience and investment in developing a diverse, culturally competent workforce of health professionals.
About Washington State University Spokane
WSU Spokane is the urban campus of Washington State University, a land-grant research university founded in 1890. The campus features advanced studies and research in health sciences and health professions, the design disciplines, education, social and policy sciences, and science and technology. WSU is one of just 95 public and private research universities with very high research activity, according to the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifications. In addition, U.S. News & World Report ranks WSU as one of the top public research universities in the nation.
About the College of Nursing at Washington State University
The college provides upper-division undergraduate nursing education in partnership with Eastern Washington University and Whitworth University. It serves in five state locations in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, Walla Walla and Yakima. The WSU College of Nursing also provides graduate nursing programs including master of nursing, doctor of philosophy in nursing (Ph.D.), and will have a doctor of nursing practice (DNP) in fall 2011.
Native American Recruitment and Retention Program:  http://spokane.wsu.edu/HealthSciences/narr.html
WSU Spokane: www.spokane.wsu.edu