Nursing Careers and Pathways

Founder Regina Daniels McKinney: Nursing CAP Program Prepares Youth for Career and Life

CRNAs and student registered nurse anesthetists contribute to the profession of nurse anesthesia in myriad different ways. From administering a safe anesthetic, to touching the lives of people in other ways, here’s one of the many stories the AANA would like to spotlight.

How did the idea of Nursing Careers and Pathways (CAP) first begin?

Daniels McKinney: I started mentoring youth at my church in a program called Diamonds and Pearls & Boys to Men in 2005. I did not know that the Nursing CAP Program was all part of God’s plans for my life. It was He who gave me the vision and the resources to get it started in 2013. The program was funded by donations from family and friends for two years. The free program provides a nurturing and supportive environment for students through mentoring; enhancing self-esteem and character; improving study skills; college preparation; and promoting healthy eating and active living.

How long has Nursing CAP been in existence?

Daniels McKinney: We started the Nursing CAP Program in 2013. In 2015, the organization became incorporated and obtained a 501c3 status. The program has been operating for seven years.

Where do you find children to participate?

Daniels McKinney: Initially, I visited the middle and high schools in Suffolk Public Schools and spoke with the guidance counselors about the program and distributed flyers. We also distributed flyers to churches, libraries, and local community centers. Currently, participants are recruited through referrals.

What is the age group that the program serves?

Daniels McKinney: The program is geared toward students in grades 6-12, and its purpose is to introduce minority students, first-generation college students, and economically disadvantaged students to nursing and other healthcare fields.

Students in the Nursing CAP Program 

What do you teach children about nursing and healthcare?

Daniels McKinney: We teach the participants numerous topics on nursing and healthcare:

  • College preparation/planning for entry into nursing school/college.
  • Day in the Life of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist with an Airway Management Skills Lab, CRNA in the Air Force, Public Health Nurse, Family Nurse Practitioner, Critical Care Nurse, Mental Health Nurse, Operating Room Nurse, Labor and Delivery Room Nurse, Pediatric Nurse, Military Nurse, Student Nurse, and Navigation Nurse.
  • Alternative Nursing Careers.
  • Men in the Nursing Profession.
  • The Nuts and Bolts of Applying to Medical School.
  • Day in the Life of a Dentist, Pharmacists, Podiatrist, and Registered Dietician.
  • Vital Signs Skills Lab Session.
  • Healthsaver CPR and First Aid Certifications.
  • Healthcare Case Studies.
  • Human Body Systems Group Activity.
  • Hospital tours.
  • The Importance of Good Oral Health.
  • Stroke Awareness and Prevention.
  • Learn about numerous illnesses including breast cancer, diabetes, glaucoma, heart and kidney diseases, and nutrition.
  • Provided students the information to apply for Jr. Volunteer Program at local hospitals.

Where do you find volunteers to participate?

Daniels McKinney: The volunteers for the program have been recruited through referrals from family, friends, and the Board of Directors. We have student and adult volunteers. The student volunteers are comprised of local high school and college students. Our adult volunteers are professional registered nurses, pharmacists, professional engineers, a registered architect, a retired educator, and college graduates. Together we can combine our knowledge and expertise in mastering important science and math concepts to the participants during our sessions by improving learning, comprehension, and grades with the use of iPads equipped with educational software.

Nursing CAP program 

If nurses, CRNAs, and other health professionals want to get involved, what should they do?

Daniels McKinney: Nurses, CRNAs, healthcare professionals, and other individuals can get involved by visiting Get Involved and complete the “Be A Tutor” link. Volunteers are needed for tutoring in math and science, mentoring, presenting different healthcare and STEM careers, administrative responsibilities, accounting or finance, grant writing, and public relations/social media skills.

What are some of the activities of Nursing CAP in addition to fostering an interest in nursing? (i.e., field trips, speakers, etc.)

Daniels McKinney: In addition to exposing participants to different career options during the academic year, the program has a one-hour tutoring session twice a month geared toward helping students with math and science. The goal is to get as many students engaged as early as possible. We know that having strong math and science skills is critical for students wanting to enroll in secondary schooling in these career fields.

Some of the other activities of the program include vision boards, breadboards, Bristlebot, improving study skills and learning style assessment, writing workshop, how to get A’s on your report cards, healthy eating, and active living modules, youth anti-bullying session, mental health session, self-esteem & character development sessions, the importance of volunteering, Black History Month presentations, college and career-readiness fairs, and financial literacy.

  • Completed Community Service Projects - arts and craft projects with elderly residents for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas at a local nursing home.
  • Local field trips to a local community college – nursing simulation lab, grocery store tours with a registered dietician/nutritionist, cooking classes with professional chefs, personal trainer and yoga classes, ODU Conference for Girls, and participation in local community-run/walks.
  • Bus trips to the National Institutes of Health – Bethesda, Md., and National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Md., 3-Day Atlanta Tour (visited the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Sites, and Six Flags Over Georgia), Hampton University High School Day, 2-Day New York City Tour (visited Columbia University, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Woodbury Mall, sightseeing of Upper Manhattan, and "School of Rock” on Broadway), 2-Day Washington, D.C. Tour (Howard University College Tour, Howard University Health Care Simulation Center, and Smithsonian African American Museum).
  • End-of-Year Celebrations – The participants learned from the real-life experiences of healthcare and other professionals currently working in their fields and they were inspired to dream big, aim high, and achieve great things in life. Panel discussions from a nursing college professor, family nurse practitioners, nurse managers, pharmacists, occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech-language pathologist, anesthesiologist, OB-GYN physician, dentist, engineers, architect, and an attorney.

Nursing CAP Students seated 

How did you choose nursing as your career choice? How did you progress to becoming a CRNA?

Daniels McKinney: I am caring, warmhearted, knowledgeable, and pride myself in providing a service for those who are sick with the utmost professionalism and integrity. These are the strengths that led me to a career in nursing. I chose nursing as a career in high school because of the opportunities it had for career advancement.

I was a senior nursing student at Hampton University and my nursing professor, Dr. Susan Jones, taught us Medical-Surgical II. It was my rotation through the Intensive Care Units (ICU) that I visualized myself as a critical care nurse. It was in the ICU, where I had my most challenging experiences. After graduating from Hampton University, I trained in the Critical Care Internship at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital for two years, rotating through four ICUs and two step-down units. I landed a job in the Vascular Intensive Care Unit (VICU) at the completion of the program. I worked in VICU until 1997 providing preoperative and postoperative nursing care to vascular, renal transplants, and general surgical patients. I had 12 years of ICU experience before I received my Master of Science in Nursing - Nurse Anesthesia from Old Dominion University in 2000. I am currently employed in Newport News, Va., and have been in clinical practice for over 20 years. During my nursing career, I have been a permanent charge nurse, preceptor to registered nurses and nursing care partners, a mentor to RNs and student registered nurse anesthetists (SRNAs) aspiring to become CRNAs, and have provided numerous shadowing experiences to these nursing students and registered nurses.

Founder Regina Daniels McKinney 

How do you raise money?

Daniels McKinney: We raise money for the program from receiving donations from the general public, the organization's directors, and parents of the program participants. Nursing CAP has also received support in the form of grants and sponsorships from local community foundations, organizations, and businesses. We also participate in giving days such as Give Local 757 and Giving Tuesday. We accept donations via our website and Facebook page. Currently, we are planning our 4th Annual Gala With A Purpose: A Red, Black & White Affair on April 4, 2020. This event is our signature annual fundraiser to support our youth programs and the ongoing operations of the organization. We have Table to Gold Sponsorships available for our upcoming event. Any support is appreciated in assisting us with sustaining this quality program for the participants.

For more information about Nursing CAP, where is the best place to find it? (i.e. Facebook, website, etc.?)

Nursing CAP Students GroupDaniels McKinney: You can find information on the program on Facebook at Nursing CAP, Instagram @nursingcapinc; Twitter @NursingCAP, to see how we are mentoring future CRNAs, nurses, healthcare providers, and leaders.

On behalf of the Board of Directors of Nursing CAP, Inc., we want to thank everyone involved in making the program a success. The committed volunteers, dedicated Board members, donors, supporters, and parents are the reasons why we are able to build capacity and deliver the free program. We want to ultimately break down barriers to academic success and we know “It takes a village to raise a child.”