The program matches first- and second-year nursing students with seniors.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A peer mentoring program aimed at helping new students at Youngstown State University survive the rigors of the nursing curriculum is garnering national attention.
The program, implemented this year, will be featured this fall in Imprint magazine, the official publication of the National Student Nurses Association.
The program also attracted interest at the NSNA's annual conference in Salt Lake City this spring. About 3,300 nursing students and faculty, including a contingent of 10 YSU students, attended the conference.
Robert Gudyk, president of YSU's chapter of the NSNA, and Laura Shannon, a YSU nursing student, created the program.
After the conference, Gudyk, of New Castle, said he received inquiries from several nursing schools wanting information about YSU's program.
Gudyk said the program helps nursing students deal with the stress of entering the nursing program.
In addition to courses in biology, chemistry and various other disciplines, nursing students work several hours a week with patients at local hospitals and other medical facilities, developing case studies, writing journals and reports, he said.
"You think, 'Oh my gosh, how am I going to get all of this done?'" said Gudyk, who graduated from Youngstown State University's nursing program this month. "It can be overwhelming. A lot of students don't make it."
Shannon, of Canfield, developed a system that matches about 120 first- and second-year nursing students with about 60 seniors.
"Having a friend who can guide you is so important, especially in that first year," Gudyk said.
Mentors help their younger colleagues with issues ranging from time management to family demands, Shannon said.
"Several of the senior students took a proactive role in their mentoring duties," Shannon said.
Patricia Hoyson, chairwoman of YSU's nursing department and an associate professor, agreed with Gudyk that faculty advisors can help struggling students, but there's nothing like having the shoulder of a fellow student to lean on.