Preparing New Nurses

Sylvia Colon Cabassa, Associate Director for Undergraduate Nursing

(Photograph by Bill Cardoni)
By Sara Campione

“I am teaching [my nursing] students to give the best care to their patients and to treat their patients with courtesy, kindness, respect and integrity,” says FDU alumna Sylvia Colon Cabassa, DNP’10 (Metro).

The clinical assistant professor of nursing at the Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, adds, “These are the students who will be taking care of us.”

The nursing undergraduate curriculum “is designed to prepare students to practice at the highest level of the nursing profession,” she continues. Students experience clinical rotations in a variety of settings from hospitals to elder-care centers to elementary schools. The program emphasizes the role and responsibility of the nursing professionals, becoming familiar with multigenerational health populations and the specific needs generated by cultural, family and socioeconomic status.

Because there is so much material to learn as a student and so much responsibility to handle when in the workforce, Colon Cabassa considers teaching time management critical. “Nurses are taking care of multiple patients, and the patients now are sicker then they used to be [and] are going to acute-care facilities to continue their care.”

With more than 30 years experience in areas including diagnostic radiology, infection control, infectious diseases and community-group home nursing — and an FDU doctor of nursing practice degree — Colon Cabassa works with students to prepare them for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Students must pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain a license to practice. The school’s class of 2015 achieved a 93.3 percent pass rate, exceeding the national average of 84.5 percent of first-time NCLEX-RN takers.

Colon Cabassa is a per diem family nurse practitioner at The Leslie Simon Breast Care and Cytodiagnosis Center at Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center, which focuses on patient teaching with a team of radiologists, nurses and doctors.

“I work closely with experienced physicians, oncologists, radiologists and cytopathologists dedicated to improving the quality of care and monitoring outcomes of patients with breast cancer and other breast diseases,” she says.

The hardest part of the job: “Of course, telling someone they have cancer.” The most rewarding part: “Supporting these clients and obtaining community services that they can get involved with to deal with their diagnoses.”

Ed. note: A version of this article first appeared in the Summer/Fall 2016 edition of FDU Magazine.