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Student Nurse Associate program helps nursing students get foot in the door to patient care

Student Nurse Associate program helps nursing students get foot in the door to patient care

By Staff reports on March 14, 2024

As Spartanburg Regional’s Student Nurse Associate (SNA) program continues to expand, more nursing students are enjoying the benefits of hands-on work experience with patient care to help launch thriving nursing careers. 

The SNA program started in 2020 at Spartanburg Medical Center and Spartanburg Medical Center – Mary Black Campus and expanded systemwide this year. 

“We are taking the next step with hiring SNAs who are training with us and allocating them out to facilities based on where they are. So, if they live in the Union area, they could work at Union Medical Center. If they live in Gaffney, they could work at Cherokee Medical Center. If they live in Greer, they could work at Pelham Medical Center,” said Sheryl Lassiter, Nurse Manager for Resource Pool. “Now, they are able to see the continuum of care throughout our system.” 

Through the SNA program, nursing students can work as patient care associates, one-on-one companions and unit ambassadors within each hospital campus. 

Part of the job now includes “shadow shifts,” which began in 2022. During these shifts, SNAs shadow a registered nurse and get a “day in the life” experience, giving them a glimpse into the various areas of nursing. 

The program has also expanded to make professional development a part of the experience. SNAs have lessons on resume-building, interview skills and one-on-one time with nursing leaders to learn more about the array of nursing positions available to them. 

Armani Sanders, a 21-year-old senior at USC Upstate, said she has always wanted to work in nursing, and the SNA program at Spartanburg Regional confirmed her hopes and ambitions. 

“I’ve always had a nurturing spirit in me since I was a kid,” she said. “I’m almost at the finish line, and I’ve been sticking to this plan for 21 years now. It’s been a dream of mine.” 

Sanders said she always felt she would most enjoy labor and delivery, but throughout her SNA experience and shadowing nurses in so many different areas, she now has her sights set on working in the Emergency Department. 

Reika Shiraki, a 20-year-old senior at USC Upstate, said she feels the same way about potentially working in the Emergency Department. 

“The ER keeps you on your feet. There’s so much versatility to what you see down there,” she said. “Being able to see what you learn at school and have that apply to a clinical environment has been so helpful. Through this I just feel so much more comfortable in the hospital.” 

Brianna Bolan, a 20-year-old senior at Anderson University, said she has enjoyed working in different areas of the hospital and gaining experience she otherwise would not have gained without the position. 

“Coming into this, I was pretty nervous because I had never worked in the medical field before,” Bolan said. “But in talking with patients, you get used to that type of communication and you understand how to nurture the patient and see that every patient is different.” 

Assistant nurse manager Kayla Weigel, who oversees the program, said the SNA positions are above and beyond what the average nursing student would be able to have during their schooling. By coming to work, networking, seeing how the hospital operates and understanding the different nursing units, students can get a feel for where they want to work. 

“It provides an opportunity to get their foot in the door,” Lassiter said. “The ultimate goal is that they come to work for us as nurses.” 

To apply for an SNA position, students must: 

  • Be enrolled in an accredited nursing program 
  • Complete their first semester of nursing clinicals 
  • And commit to a minimum of one eight-hour shift every two weeks during the school semester 

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