Nursing student task force helps ESL students succeed

Nursing students who don’t speak English as their first language are getting support this fall in the form of recommendations from a college task force.

The Nursing Student Success Task Force has been working since 2009 to design programs to assist nursing students who aren’t being successful, said Lydia Rucker, task force chair and Communications Lab assistant.

Rucker said the group has recommended workshops to teach students how to break down nursing textbooks and how to study.

Those workshops will be presented this fall in the Communications Lab, she said.

Rucker said the workshop idea came because many students in the program lack English communications skills and were failing and dropping out of the nursing program.

“You must have good written and verbal communication skills in nursing,” she said.

If nursing students’ verbal communication skills are lacking, Rucker said, they are less likely to be hired.

Also, she said, they are less likely to engage well with doctors and patients.

Tola Suleiman, second semester nursing student, said she was unaware of the new workshops but thinks they will be a good idea.

“Reading and understanding English is very important because of all the reading in the nursing program,” Suleiman said.

Rucker said the task force, which is made up of Multicultural English and nursing faculty, may also soon offer recommendations about mentoring groups, study seminars and ways for ESL students to better speak English.

She said the task force is looking at what other colleges and universities are doing well and hoping to utilize those approaches at OCCC.

The group also is trying to apply for several grants to fund the new initiatives, Rucker said.

“Our hope is it doesn’t stop with only the nursing program, that we will find new ways to assist across the curriculum, finding new strategies and ways to help all students,” she said.

For more information, contact Rucker at 405-682-1611, ext. 7105, or e-mail

To contact Alyson Cook, email

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