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Pathways to Nursing

Pathways to Nursing

If you are interested in a nursing career, The University of Kansas Health System offers several firsthand opportunities for you to learn what is involved – complete with training and hands-on experience.

I decided to apply for the Patient Care Assistant (PCA) Intern Program after talking with a nursing recruiter I met through a class at my church. I had been struggling to find a career that fit me and had been encouraged by family who are in nursing to give healthcare a shot. I did not take a real step toward doing that until this opportunity came up. The PCA internship gave me the chance to start a job in healthcare while getting paid for the classes instead of having to pay for the CNA course.
The PCA internship has allowed me to get hands-on experience in healthcare and gain advice from healthcare professionals who influenced me to pursue a career at the health system.
Ben Pohlman, Patient Care Assistant (PCA)

Nurse Academy

Created with a vision to explore the future of nursing, Nurse Academy introduces students to the many career paths available through nursing.

Nurse Academy is a two-day program that introduces high school and college students to the profession of nursing through hands-on experiences and presentations. Through the partnership of The University of Kansas Health System and the University of Kansas School of Nursing, students will have the opportunity to practice hands-on nursing skills, learn about different fields within nursing practice, and tour several different patient care delivery areas within the hospital.

The 2022 Nurse Academy application includes:

  • Letter of Reference (you will need to provide the email address of the person who recommends you)
  • Awards, volunteer work, employment and/or extracurriculars
  • Written, one-page essay about why you are applying, your healthcare experiences, difficult experiences, your strengths and accomplishments

Be prepared with your answers and contact information prior to starting the application. Incomplete applications will not be accepted. Only 30–40 students will be accepted into the Nurse Academy program. Due to the large response of applicants, a waitlist will be developed. Student applicants will be notified by email if they are accepted or placed on the waitlist.

Applications open in the spring. Link to come

Our Goal and History

The goal of Nurse Academy is to show high school and college students how rewarding and exciting the nursing profession can be. Since the early 2000s, the KU School of Nursing and The University of Kansas Health System have partnered to create a setting where students can learn about the work and skills of nursing through Nurse Academy.

Nurse Academy Activities

Students hear lectures from accomplished nurses and participate in a skills lab, learning skills like starting an IV, suturing and performing CPR. In addition, students will experience The University of Kansas Health System facilities and care departments, including trauma services, the newborn nursery, intensive care units, cardiac services, medical/surgical units, ambulatory care and the operating rooms. Additionally, academic and professional activities are offered through nursing program information settings, career path counseling and resume building.

What participants are saying:

  • "I learned more about what it will take to be a nurse and what I should focus on in school to have a career in the medical field.”
  • "I learned more about the responsibilities of a nurse and how much fun it can be. ”
  • "I’ve gained a greater knowledge of the overall job of nurses. ”
  • "I learned that there are a lot of different areas in nursing. You can take so many different avenues. You can always do something different.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How many students can attend Nurse Academy?

Nurse Academy accepts between 30 and 40 students each year.

What is the application/registration process?

The application process is similar to applying to a school of nursing. An essay and letter of reference are required. Registration forms are included in the application packet. Applicants must submit the required documents by the stated deadline to be considered for the program.

Who leads Nurse Academy?

Nurses from The University of Kansas Health System and KU School of Nursing faculty lead the program.

What types of nursing areas will participants learn about?

Participants may learn about the following areas of nursing:

  • Medical-Surgical
  • Burn and Trauma
  • Cardiology
  • Ambulatory and Outpatient
  • Emergency Department
  • Infection Prevention and Control
  • Labor and Delivery
  • Mother/Baby
  • Neonatal Intensive Care
  • Oncology
  • Operating Room and Perioperative
  • Pediatrics
  • Psychiatry

What are some of the hands-on experiences?

  • Physical assessment skills
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Drain and wound care
  • Hand hygiene
  • Starting an IV
  • Checking vital signs
  • Transferring patients from a bed to a wheelchair
  • Using crutches

Can I attend Nurse Academy more than once?

Due to the limited number of participants accepted each year, students can only attend one time.

Do I have to attend both days?

Yes, participants must commit to attending both days. There is a waiting list of interested participants, so attending only one day would take away their opportunity to attend both days.

Can I take pictures with my camera at Nurse Academy?

Due to privacy laws, you may not take pictures with your own camera. Nurse Academy faculty will take pictures throughout the program and will provide participants access to the pictures.

Will I need to bring my own lunch?

No. Breakfast and lunch will be provided both days of Nurse Academy. These are provided by generous donations.

Still have questions?

Please email

Patient Care Assistant

Within the Patient Care Assistant (PCA) program is a newly created position, the Patient Care Assistant (PCA) intern. The PCA interns are not required to hold a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) credential prior to hiring. The program includes 3 weeks of onboarding training.

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