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CFCC Nursing Students Educate and Mentor Young Mothers

Courtesy of Central Florida Community College

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Student nurse Peggy Hagans looks on as a Young Parent Program student practices nose and mouth suctioning techniques to keep a baby's airway clear.

Central Florida Community College nursing students are making a difference in the lives of young pregnant women and new mothers in Marion County Public Schools' Young Parent Program. The teen mothers and mothers-to-be visit the college's Ocala Campus to attend educational programs presented by third semester Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) students under the direction of Professor Jan Livingston, who developed the partnership nearly six years ago.

"In addition to providing valuable health and infant care information, the nursing students act as mentors, encouraging the teens to complete their high school education and begin the planning process to attend college," Livingston explained.

More than 500 teens and 250 CFCC nursing students have participated to date, with six sessions held annually--three in the fall semester and three in the spring. Sessions take place after the ADN students finish obstetrics and gynecology clinical rotations, which include labor and delivery, the nursery and infant assessment, and postpartum care. Teachers from the Young Parent Program accompany the teens to CFCC and are active in the planning process that occurs before each visit.

The program benefits the college students and young mothers alike. Student nurses gain experience in assessing learning needs; planning and teaching topics on pregnancy, birth and parenting; and evaluating learning. "I'm learning how to teach on a one-on-one level, and it reinforces what I've done throughout the year," said ADN student Aarin Mowbray.

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CFCC nursing student Ericka Browne teaches two teen mothers-to-be about bathing and feeding their babies.

The teens learn about such topics as caring for themselves during pregnancy, the birth process, methods to control pain during labor, and newborn and postpartum care. "I think it's great to have this kind of education available for young teenagers that they may not get anywhere else, so it gives them a sense of what to expect," said ADN student Becky Bragg. "I really enjoy it and think it's a great feeling to be able to teach somebody."

Marion County School's Young Parent Program began in 1989 with a focus on dropout prevention, said Polly McClellan, a teacher who has been on board since its inception. Available to students in grades 6 to 12, the program seeks to keep expectant parents in school. "The number one reason girls drop out is pregnancy," McClellan said. Students can stay in the program for 180 days, and between 75 and 100 youngsters enroll each year. Transportation is provided for all participants, as is on-site child care for students who have already delivered their babies.

In addition to academic classes in math, science and English, the program provides parenting classes such as Health for Expectant Parents, Parenting I and II, Food and Nutrition, and Children's Literature. After completing four parenting classes, a student can go back to her regular school to finish her high school education, with child care paid for at a facility approved by Childhood Development Services.

In addition to the collaborative work with CFCC, one of the most rewarding aspects of the program for McClellan and fellow teacher Sandy Fuller is its literacy component, they said. Many teen mothers have learning difficulties. "They don't like school. They have a hard time reading...it's a difficult road," Fuller explained. While in the program, many gain an interest in reading and enjoy works that include novels for teen parents. "Once you get them interested, they just want to continue reading," Fuller said.